The city of Palmer unanimously passed all three ordinances it took up on the agenda on Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting that followed an audit of the 2018 budget in a special meeting.
Alaska Picker owner and Board of Economic Development Member Kelly Turney spoke in favor of ordinance 19-015, which was up for public hearing. Ordinance 19-015 would change the definitions within Palmer Municipal Code to allow microbreweries to be located within general commercial districts. Turney’s good friend Zack Lanphier co-owns Bleeding Heart Brewery, which had scheduled a location change to the Alaska Picker store in the shadow of the Palmer water tower. Turney spoke to the council, illustrating that the addition of microbreweries to similar small towns around the country have added different elements to small-town economies, forcing business collaborations not typically seen. Turney also noted that the Planning and Zoning board passed the ordinance unanimously before sending it to the council.
“All you’re doing is basically modernizing a code which was written years ago to include an asset in our economy which is now at the forefront and is growing by huge leaps and bounds in Alaska and in the Palmer area,” said Turney.
The current definition in PMC is a maximum of 50,000 gallons of beer brewed in one calendar year, but requires a restaurant. Title 17 of PMC did not previously have a definition for microbrewery, which is an establishment that brews less than 15,000 gallons of beer per calendar year, but does not carry the stipulation that it is required to have a restaurant, as does the definition for brewpub. While Turney pandered to the wallets and sensibilities of the council, Lanphier was shorter with his testimony.
“I have grown up here in Palmer. My family is still here in Palmer. I have invested in this community and this city emotionally, physically, mentally and financially. My heart is already in Palmer, I just ask that my business be allowed to be as well,” said Lanphier.
The ordinance passed unanimously.
The second ordinance passed through public hearing by the council was one nearly a year in the making. Ordinance 19-016 that enacted new PMC regarding excessive police responses also passed unanimously. The ordinance came from the organization of the Valley Interfaith Action, which sprung into action following concerned neighbors who were unable to get a resolution on problematic neighbors. The ordinance originally came to the council as written by council members Julie Berberich and Sabrena Combs, who had met with VIA and Palmer Police Chief Lance Ketterling last winter. Following the ordinance’s introduction to the council, city staff determined that they had questions on enforceability, and the ordinance was resubmitted with more stringent definitions.
“It’s nice to see citizens and elected and hired officials coming together in cooperation,” said Cesar Marciales in support of the resolution.
Tenants or houses within city limits that accrue six calls that do not fall under the accepted items within the ordinance definitions will be given a warning and cited at eight calls without cause. The major debate over the original ordinance was whether or not the city wanted to get into the business of evicting problem residents.
“We’re not asking you to become in the real estate business, we’re just asking you to show support for safer neighborhoods and a better place for families to grow and prosper,” said Hillary Palmer.
Airport Advisory Commission Chair Ken More reported to the council on the goings on at the Bud Woods Municipal Airport. More detailed that for the full calendar year of 2018, $8,563 in fuel flowage fees were collected. From the start of the year to the end of july, over $9,373 had been collected. City Manager Nathan Wallace detailed the results of a survey that had been distributed by the city over the summer, asking for feedback about what services residents value most.
“Overall, people feel good about palmer that’s what this really says,” said Wallace.
Mayor Edna DeVries also proclaimed this week to be Suicide Prevention Week in Palmer. DeVries noted during her proclamation that suicide is the only leading cause of death in the country that has increased every year for the last decade, and that suicide is the fifth leading cause of death in Alaska.
Newly minted council member Imran Chaudhry thanked Ketterling for his service to the Palmer Police Department, as Ketterling announced that the will retire at the end of the calendar year.