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03/04/2008 Strategic Planning MeetingCITY OF MONROE CITY COUNCIL STRATEGIC PLANNING MEETING 300 W. CROWELL STREET, MONROE, NC 28112 MARCH 4, 2008 - 4:00 P.M. AGENDA www.monroenc.org 1. Historic District Tree Pruning 2. Discussion of Wireless Internet Service in Downtown 3. Update and Discussion of City Logo 4. Review of Budget Schedule and Discussion of Rescheduling Strategic Planning Session A. Call for a Special City Council Strategic Planning Session to be Held March 27, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. 5. Closed Session-N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5) (, City Council Strategic Planning Meeting March 4, 2008 • Page 64 CITY OF MONROE CITY COUNCIL STRATEGIC PLANNING MEETING MARCH 4, 2008 - 4:00 P.M. MINUTES The City Council of the City of Monroe, North Carolina, met in a Strategic Planning Meeting in the City Hall Council Chambers, 300 W. Crowell Street, Monroe, North Carolina, at 4:00 p.m. on March 4, 2008 with Mayor Bobby G. Kilgore presiding. Present: Mayor Bobby G. Kilgore, Mayor Pro Tem P.E. Bazemore, Council Members John Ashcraft, Billy Jordan, Lynn Keziah, Dottie Nash, Robert J. Smith, City Manager F. Craig Meadows, City Attorney Terry Sholar, and City Clerk Bridgette H. Robinson. Absent: None Visitors: Bob Dunlap, Billy Dunlap, Mike Torralba, Matthew Deck, Jeff Arwine, Mark Donham, Jim Fatland, Ron Fowler, Wayne Herron, Debra Korb, David Lucore, Mitch Martin, Don Mitchell, Chris Plate, Lisa Stiwinter, Doug Britt, Mike Torralba, and others. Mayor Kilgore called the Strategic Planning Meeting of March 4, 2008 to order at 4:00 p.m. A _ quorum was present. Item No. ~1. Historic District Tree Pruning. Assistant City Manager Wayne Herron noted that "in every community, there seems to be an innate fear and mistrust of utility companies when it comes to the trimming of trees." Mr. Herron advised that staff had experienced that even though the City hired a company that has an arborist, that does not mean anything to the community because to them, the tree trimmer was the "enemy." Mr. Herron noted that "the closer a tree is to a power line, the more difficult the situation is for the utility because they are trying to obtain a certain amount of clearance to preserve the health of the tree and leave the tree with an aesthetic appearance that will be acceptable to the customer." He noted that staff recommended the ANSI A-300 pruning standards, which states that if the tree has to be pruned, it will be pruned to a lateral branch or back to the main stem. He stated that for trees that are in close proximity to the wires, the results are always drastic. Mr. Herron added that even if staff followed the arborist standards, it was not necessarily what the community thought was the right thing to do as far as trimming the trees. He felt it was important to maintain open dialogue between the electric department and the community. The two groups may not always agree with each other, but if they could maintain open dialogues and open minds, then progress will follow. Mr. Herron advised that in late 2007, a recommendation from the Appearance Commission was presented regarding the tree trimming issue. At that time, Council requested staff conduct City Council Strategic Planning Meeting March 4, 2008 Page 65 research with communities that not only have private/investor-owned utilities, but that also have public power and how they handled the issue. Mr. Heron shared with Council tree trimming policies from other jurisdictions. Mr. Herron advised that based on the research, jurisdictions with private/investor owned providers also have difficulty regulating tree trimming practices and schedules. He noted that both, the providers and the jurisdictions advised that staff could work with the private providers, but any trimming procedures or policies are based totally on what their board of directors felt they could afford to do in order to provide the profit to their stakeholders and stockholders. It is not always what the community wants, but these companies do have a vested interest to maintain positive relations with the comri'><unity, and they do have problems. Mr. Herron advised that public power communities have every right and ability to direct their utilities to prune according to any acceptable method and dictate the pruning schedule, if they are willing to pay for it. There are different schedules for pruning, but are all based on what the City was willing to pay. Mr. Herron stated that sometimes going on a cycle where pruning occurs every two or three years may riot always be the best approach. Mr. David Grant, Union County Cooperative Extension Arborist, indicated sometimes it was better to communicate proper trimming and just go ahead and trim it in the appropriate way which may not be aesthetically pleasing to start with, but if the tree is trained to grow in the right direction, then it will not need to be trimmed as much because it will be growing the way you desire it to grow; however, it needs to be stopped from growing in the direction of the utility line or at least redirected to some degree. Mr. Herron stated that there were several jurisdictions in historic areas such as Old Salem where a significant number of historic trees were removed because the trees and root systems were destroying the historic infrastructure and the historic buildings in Old Salem. New trees were planted in other areas which did not conflict with the utilities so the streets, sidewalks, and the buildings could be preserved. Mr. Herron stated there was no statute that prohibited different trimming schedules in different areas. However, staff wanted to be fair and use the same procedures City-wide, but just like in zoning and other issues, if there is a special reason why an area is treated differently due to the fact that trees do mean something in the historic district and they do provide a certain value to _ the historic district, you do have the ability and may want to trim the trees differently in that specific area. Mr. Herron stated that staff recommended amending the Tree Trimming and Removal Policy for the Historic District to address the following issues: 1. Require all pruning and removal activities to follow the American National Standards Institutes (ANSI) A300 pruning standards, which includes avoiding topping, tipping, removing branch collars and leaving long stubs. All workers performing tree pruning and removal must read and understand the ANSI A300 pruning standards, comply with the standards, and keep a copy at every work site for quick reference. City Council Strategic Planning Meeting March 4, 2008 Page 66 2. Annual documented training on the American National Standards Institutes (ANSI) A300 pruning standards is carried out for all employees, contractor workers, and supervisors who do pruning work for the utility. 3. Monroe Energy Services, or its designated contractor, in instances of tree trimming for utility line clearance, shall contact the affected property owner at least two (2) weeks prior to, but not more than three (3) weeks in advance of the scheduled day for work to begin. 4. In the absence of personal contact with a property owner, a notification letter or door hanger shall be distributed to affected property owners. The notification letter or door hanger should contain information related to the type of pruning -or tree removal to be conducted and the estimated schedule for the work to commence. (~ 5. A tree pruning schedule should be discussed for the South Monroe Historic District that would provide a safe and reliable provision of power, but also recognize the valuable cultural and economic resource that the historic trees provide and would leave trees in a more aesthetically pleasing state. 6. Tree removal replacement shall occur in an alternate location on site, if a suitable location exists. If a suitable location does not exist, shrubbery should be considered as an alternative. Tree mitigation shall adhere to the following: Tree Removed Tree Re laced Shrubber Re laced Less than 12" calf ers One 2.5" calf er trees Two shrubs 12" tali ers to less then 18" tali ers Two 2.5" calf er trees Four shrubs 18" calf ers to less then 24" tali ers Three 2.5" tali er trees Six shrubs 24" calf ers Four 2.5" calf er trees Ei ht shrubs Mr. Herron stated the Appearance Commission had money in their budget to provide the replacement trees/shrubs and coordinate the schedule. Mr. Herron stated that the Appearance Commission recommended adding an additional item: (''1 7. The Urban Forester with Union County Cooperative Extension, who is a certified arborist, shall be required to be on-site during all tree trimming and removal activities within the South Monroe Historic District. Mr. Herron advised that Mr. Grant would not charge the City for his services and felt their schedules could be worked out. Mr. Herron stated that staff and the Appearance Commission felt that in addition to Mr. Grant being on site, communication was also a key issue. Many of the citizen complaints have been that they were not aware that anyone was going to be on their property and the problem was basically a breakdown in communication. Council Member Nash asked if the recommendation for notification was just for the Historic District for tree removal/trimming. Mr. Herron stated this recommendation was for the Historic City Council Strategic Planning Meeting March 4, 2008 Page 67 District only. Council Member Nash felt staff should notify any resident, and not just residents in the Historic District, if someone was going to be on their property for tree removal/trimming. Council Member Jordan suggested staff leave a door hanger with the property owner. He suggested seminars/workshops where citizens are given examples of tree trimming standards in order to understand the standard that the City would be using. Mr. Herron felt staff could coordinate that without any problem. Council Member Jordan also suggested giving the members of the Historic District an opportunity to be onsite for the tree trimming as well, especially the person who is having the work done at their property. Mr. Herron stated that Mr. Grant agreed to conduct a session with the Historic District about the trimming methods. Mr. Herron noted that one thing about Mr. Grant being on site was that while there are standards that the ANSI 300 does specify, oftentimes in dealing with historic trees, there are things observed that might need to be done a slightly different way. Council Member Jordan felt all those things were positive, but it would also help if the citizens understood why the trees are being trimmed a certain way perhaps if the homeowner could not be at home when their trees are going to be trimmed, someone from the community could be there to watch how the trees are being trimmed and that individual could share with the homeowner why particular things were done. Mr. Herron stated that certainly they could work with the Electric Division on when their notifications go out and that the Planning Department could be notified as well and work through the Historic District Commission. Staff would also work to try and make sure that communication takes place. Council Member Jordan asked how far in advance the work crews have their tree trimming schedules. Mr. Lucore replied they are scheduled from one to two weeks ahead of time and staff does attempt to make contact with property owners when they go out to begin trimming. There are times when they do not know the property owner. Council Member Jordan stated that information was always available to any City department through the Planning and Zoning Department because there was information on every property owner in the City. Council Member Jordan suggested that the Electric Division coordinate with the Planning Department and not leave it up to the tree trimming crew to notify the property owners. Council Member Ashcraft asked if the tree trimming crews the City used were familiar with ~ ANSI 300. Mr. Lucore replied the City has been trimming to the ANSI 300 standards since ~ ~ 1995. Council Member Jordan noted it was a communication problem and felt staff could do a better job. City Manager Meadows asked was there any action that needed to be taken from this item. Mr. Herron stated staff made these recommendations and, if it was the consensus of the Council to follow these in addition to the comments that have been made today, staff would work with the Electric Division and prepare a press release to the public. Mr. Herron noted staff wanted to make sure the tree trimming schedule could be posted on the City's website where the public would be more informed as to where the tree trimming was going to occur. Staff was going to schedule these work sessions with the Historic District and felt they would be very interested in those. City Council Strategic Planning Meeting March 4, 2008 Page 68 Mr. Jeff Arwine stated that he came before Council in June 2007 and expressed his discontent with how one of his 100 year old oaks was pruned and his neighbor's three Bradford trees were cut down by the tree service contracted by the City. As a member of the Historic District, he felt there should be steps and practices that prevent the excessive pruning of the trees in his district and keep the utilities honest in their trimming practices. He felt the best way for this to happen was for the City to contract an arborist to travel with the tree trimming contractors to cut the trees to ensure the trees are trimmed not only in a manner that will protect the power lines, but also preserve the natural look of the trees. Mr. Arwine felt the notifications such as the use of the website and door hangers were key to keeping the community informed of the tree trimming schedule and giving the homeowner a minimum of two to three weeks notice. He also felt that educating the citizens on how and why the trees are trimmed would be beneficial. Mr. Arwine noted that annual training of all employees and the contractors involved in tree pruning was critical going forward to ensure that everyone was on the same page. He stated that this was ultimately a balancing act that required give and take on both sides and would require first and foremost communication. Mr. Arwine felt it would benefit our beautiful City's urban landscape. Consensus of Council was to accept the recommended ANSI-300 pruning standards: Trimming and Removal of Historic Trees in the City of Monroe Utilities are increasingly realizing the public relations and demand-side management advantages of fostering quality community forests. Trees and utility service lines are integral components of every community. By necessity, they must co-exist in close proximity, and each in its own way is essential to our high standard of living. The Community Appearance Commission would like to highlight-for the consumer public as well as utility workers-key practices that need to be followed. The Commission would like to engage the community at large about cooperation, goodwill and the need for continuous tree care. The following practices and policies are recommended to be adopted by the City Council for tree care and removal of historically designated and defined trees within or near City utility easements: 1. Work practices be formally adopted for pruning. These practices should avoid topping, tipping, removing branch collars and leaving long stubs. Each worker who performs line clearance, including contractor workers, has read and understands the field guide (or an equivalent approved by the community Urban Forester), follows its recommendations, and has a copy at every work site for quick reference; 2. Annual documented training on following the work practices in Policy 1 is carried out for all employees, contractor workers and supervisors who do pruning work for the utility; 3. An arborist, forester or other trained utility employee is designated by the utility to ensure that the training takes place and that the work practices are followed; 4. Where right-of--way clearing requirements call for pruning, the work practices shall be followed. This guide shall be read and understood by each worker who performs line clearance, and will be City Council Strategic Planning Meeting March 4, 2008 Page 69 available at each work site as a quick reference. Specifically, the following practices shall be followed: ~` (a) Techniques consistent with the practices of natural, lateral and drop crotch trimming shall be utilized. Cuts are to be made back to the main stem or to a branch which is at least one third the diameter of the portion being removed. In no case shall deciduous tree limbs be stubbed off at the edge of the clearing limits. Wherever possible, all trimming cuts shall be made to direct future growth and sprouting away from the conductors; (b) Conifers should be trimmed in a natural manner that allows them to retain as much of their natural shape as possible; (c) All dead branches overhanging primary conductors at any height shall be removed; (d) A minimum of cuts should be utilized to achieve required clearances; (e) Where practical, cuts should be primarily restricted to large diameter branches made well within the crown. Shaping through the use of many cuts of small diameter branches in the outer crown should be avoided; - (f) Remove living branches by making cuts as close as possible to the branch collar. Remove dead branches by making cuts as close as possible to the living tissues that surround the dead branch at the base; (g) . Precautions shall be taken to avoid stripping or tearing of bark when cutting large- diameter limbs; (h) When a tree owner requests wound dressings, inform the owner that research shows no benefits; dressings may even cause harm. If they insist, use a very thin coating of a dressing; (i) Where line-clearance trimming adversely alters the shape of a tree, additional trimming may be done to give the tree satisfactory shape and appearance; (j) Climbing irons or "hooks" should not be used except in cases involving tree removal work. 5. When tree trimming or removal is planned, property owners and neighborhoods should be notified a minimum of two weeks in advance. Trimming schedules should be published in the local newspapers, posted at City Hall and announced at City Council Meetings; 6. Upon the removal of any tree, large diameter stumps should be removed; 7. Tree replacement should occur in an alternate location on site, if a suitable location exists. If a suitable location does not exist, shrubbery should be considered as an alternative; 8. The City should continue its positive efforts to minimize the future conflicts of trees and utility easements through the development review and approval process; 9. The City Electric Division should become a member of TreeLine USA, a group of power providers that are associated with Tree City USA members. The City of Monroe is a Tree City USA member. Item No. 2. Discussion of Wireless Internet Service in Downtown. Mr. Billy Dunlap and Mr. Bob Dunlap of WildFire Connections provided a PowerPoint presentation on wireless Internet service in the downtown area. WildFire Connections is a Charlotte based company specializing in the development of "Free Wi-Fi" systems for smaller cities throughout the Southeast and can also provide "Subscription Wi-Fi" services through its Internet Service Provider (ISP) company, Internet America. City Council Strategic Planning Meeting Mazch 4, 2008 Page 70 Mr. Dunlap stated that WildFire Connections would make a significant investment in the City by ~' ; building a Wi-Fi system that would be known as WildFire-Monroe with a free Wi-Fi system outdoors which means all citizens and visitors to the community would receive free high-speed internet access outdoors and within their wireless signal coverage areas. "Free Wi-Fi" users would simply log-on through their login page to reach the public internet. Mr. Dunlap noted that "FreeWi-Fi" services were possible because this portion of their business was supported by the sale of online advertising. Mr. Dunlap noted that the WildFire-Monroe Wi-Fi system would be owned and operated by WildFire Connections, thereby eliminating the City's liabilities inherent in municipally owned broadband systems. The "Free Wi-Fi" system would first serve downtown Monroe, with system ~-1 expansion into other parts of the City over the next one to two years. Mr. Dunlap stated that as the areas of signal coverage are expanded across the City, WildFire Connections will provide free use of their wireless infrastructure to the City for public-safety applications such as video surveillance, video recording via wireless cameras for targeted areas, and mobile field reporting directly from patrol cars in the field. Monroe will become recognized as a very technology-progressive community. WildFire Connections will jointly conduct a regional publicity campaign to announce the City is launching an advanced technology infrastructure for its citizens and business community. Limited sponsorships are offered to selected community business leaders and civic organizations. Their funds are used to establish and expand "Free Wi-Fi" signal coverage into areas of the City in their name and they can designate the area. Mr. Dunlap noted that in the downtown area, WildFire would offer high-speed broadband wireless ISP services indoors for all businesses and residences and pricing would be at industry competitive rates. Additional wireless features would also be offered, such as "walk-around" wireless coverage for laptops, iPhones, etc. Mr. Dunlap stated that WildFire was ready to make their investment in the City. However, the following items are needed from the City: (1) attachment rights to City owned property at no charge, and also including the County building; (2) electrical services for wireless access points ~ provided at no charge; and (3) assistance in assembling WildFire's initial founding sponsors from community sources. Mr. Dunlap stated that to proceed with all, or part of, the previously described wireless broadband program for downtown Monroe, WildFire will need the following founding sponsor commitments: (1) the "Free Wi-Fi" outdoor service will take aone-time founding sponsor commitment of $20,000; and (2) adding the indoor "Subscription Wi-Fi" (ISP) service will take a one-time founding sponsor commitment of another $20,000, if built at the same time as the "Free Wi-Fi" system; however, if built later, the additional amount would increase to $30,000. Consensus of Council was to refer this item to the Strategic Initiatives Committee. City Council Strategic Planning Meeting Mazch 4, 2008 Page 71 - Item No. 3. Update and Discussion of City Logo. Mr. Chris Plate, Economic Development and Aviation Director, advised this was afollow-up to finalize the proposed new City logo that was presented in late 2007. Staff had looked to incorporate three symbols: future, history, and community in a design that symbolized those three words and incorporated the City's motto of "a heritage of progress. " The design was finalized by the graphic designer. Mr. Plate advised the next steps would be to place the logo on business cards, letterhead, vehicles, etc. He does not have a budget amount yet, but will have that at the budget presentation if Council chooses to move forward. Staff requested direction to move forward with the proposed logo or find an alternative. Mr. Meadows noted that the current City seal would still be the official seal of the City and would continue to be used on all legal documents. The proposed logo would replace the City seal as the public "brand" or "mark" on City letterhead, website, vehicles, etc. Consensus of Council was to move forward with the proposed City logo. Item No. 4. Review of Budget Schedule and Discussion of Rescheduling Strate;ic Planning Session. City Manager Meadows reviewed the 2008-2009 Budget Schedule with City Council and requested that they consider a date to hold a Strategic Planning Session to discuss Council goals and objectives for the upcoming fiscal year and planning for the 2008-2009 budget. A. Call for a Special City Council Strategic Planning Session to be Held March 27, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. Council Member Smith made a motion to call for a Special City Council Strategic Planning Session to be held March 27, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. to discuss Council goals and objectives __ for the upcoming fiscal year and planning for the 2008-2009 budget. Council Member Nash seconded the motion, which passed unanimously with the following votes: AYES: Council Members Ashcraft, Jordan, Keziah, Nash, Smith, Mayor Pro Tem Bazemore, and Mayor Kilgore NAYS: None Item No. 5. Closed Session - N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5). Council Member Nash moved to go into Closed Session pursuant to N.C.G.S. 143-318.11(a)(5). Council Member Smith seconded ~1 the motion, which passed unanimously with the following votes: AYES: Council Members Ashcraft, Jordan, Keziah, Nash, Smith, Mayor Pro Tem Bazemore, and Mayor Kilgore NAYS: None Upon return from Closed Session and there being no further business, the City Council Strategic Planning Meeting of March 4, 2008 adjourned at 6:00 p.m. City Council Strategic Planning Meeting March 4, 2008 Page 72 Attest: obby ilgore, Mayor Bri gette H. Robinson, City Clerk 03-04-08stp Minutes Transcribed by Sherry K. Hicks C City Council Strategic Planning Meeting Mazch 4, 2008 Page 73