Fairview ponders deer reduction, old ordinances, and culinary water supply
By Doug Lowe
FAIRVIEW—The city council unanimously agreed to move forward in dealing with a number of important and possibly controversial issues at its February meeting.
The issues include reducing the local deer population, updating old and ineffective ordinances and increasing Fairview’s culinary water supply.
The council also agreed to take the first of several steps that could eventually led to a program of controlling invasive deer by lethal means. Their decision was based on input received last month from the Department of Wildlife Resources.
Noting that “the deer were here before us, and probably were born here,” Mayor Dave Taylor expressed some personal resistance to the idea of destroying them. A number of council members also expressed hesitancy for a variety of reasons: safety concerns and the cost of such a program being mentioned most often.
However, after carefully considering the wording, a proposed ordinance was passed unanimously. The new law bans the intentional feeding of deer, elk and moose within the city limits. As was pointed out by councilman Matt Sorensen, such an ordinance could actually help the wildlife by keeping them in the habit of “feeding themselves rather than becoming dependent on humans.”
The council also unanimously approved a motion to begin retaining a subsidiary of Jones & DeMille Engineering, known as Rural Community Consultants (RCC), at a cost of $300 per month to help with gradually researching and updating the city’s most important ordinances, one issue at a time.
Speaking for RCC, their representative Mike Hansen suggest two possible working arrangements in tackling the almost monumental tasks of revising or dropping important city ordinances that have outlived their current form—some being practically 50 years old.
Hansen’s first proposal was contract with an estimated price tag $22,000 to rapidly bring Fairview ordinances into alignment with current state laws controlling how municipalities can operate. In doing that work, RCC promises to drawn upon what has proven to work in other cities like Fairview, and provide model ordinances, what has worked and is working in other communities, drafted in “plain language instead of legalese” and taking a “conservative rather than a creative approach.”
The second proposal from Hansen is what council chose to go with: For a $300 per month retainer fee, RCC will begin working on one single issue at a time—beginning with whatever council decides is the most pressing. So, in closing, Hansen asked each member to come back to the next council meeting with their suggestion for what ordinance-related issue was the most important and needed to be worked on first.
One possibility, briefly discussed before Hansen’s presentation, was the need to come up with how to deal with the short-term rental issue because dozens of Fairview residents currently have their places listed with Airbnb or similar services, and new homes are being built with floor plans specifically designed to accommodate paying guests in a mother-in-law type of apartment area.
Another possible top issue, which was discussed following Hansen, was how to deal with impact fees or connection fees in the cases of so-called “abandoned meters.” That term actually referred to cases when a property owner of a vacant structure, where metering of water and/or electrical usage has long been inactive, wants to reconnect and reactivate service—possible with an upgrade to higher voltage or larger volume.
The city’s continuing concern with culinary water supply was address during the report by water and sewer chief, Justin Jackson. Despite recent efforts, the blockage that began last Thanksgiving, when two 90 degree bends in the spring line became total plugged by debris, water is still not flowing. At the same time, an almost 50 percent reduction in production from the well, which is the city’s second most important source of potable water, raises concerns. “Maybe it just the weather, or maybe something else like private wells depleting the supply,” Jackson told council.
A few days after Jackson’s comments, which some might have found alarming, Mayor Taylor expressed optimism, saying, “We have a game plan for dealing with the problem. There is no need to panic. We are going to get it done—beginning with the very next city council meeting. You’ll see.”
The last thing accomplished during council’s February meeting was to move forward the schedule for the March meeting, in order to ensure a quorum would be present, with the upcoming meeting being set for an unusual date, Tuesday, March 10, with a 7:30 p.m. start time.