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Manager's Blog

August 25, 2017

On Friday, August 25th the City Council held a work session to discuss critical infrastructure needs and what impact any future improvements would have on Berkley residents.

Click here to review the meeting’s presentation, including a summary of how the Council would like to move forward to address the infrastructure needs.

Updates on this matter will be provided on the city's website and social media channels as soon as they are available.

August 17, 2017 

At the August 22nd Planning Commission meeting, developer Berkley Coolidge LLC. will present a revised Planned Unit Development (PUD) application for the La Salette School Property. The  revisions are based on the suggestions and comments provided by Planning Commission members and residents at previous public meetings. A traffic study of the areas surrounding the La Salette property is also included in the revised application.

Click here for more information, including the documents that will be presented at the August 22nd meeting

June 19, 2017

Click the link below for a digital version of the Community Development Department Reorganization Presentation or watch the video to see the presentation at the June 19th Council meeting.

Community Development Department - Reorganization Presentation

June 7, 2017

June Chat with Matt Presentation 

June 7, 2017

La Salette PUD Application Update

April 24, 2017

Temporary Trailer at Our Lady of La Salette Roman Catholic Church

To the Residents of Berkley,
Since I joined the city in June 2016, the City Council has had a very clear directive for me and my staff: Improve Communications with the Residents of Berkley.  This has been the driving force behind the ongoing effort to “pull back the curtain” of City Hall and show how decisions are made and where we can improve.  We are working to maintain and build upon the public’s trust so this seemed like a great opportunity to share the latest developments, history, and how we will address situations like this moving forward.  For those up on their internet speak, the TL:DR version is that an out-of-place section of the Zoning Code was recently located after many months of city officials operating under the belief that our ordinance did not address temporary construction/retail trailers and we will be remedying this accidental code violation.

In the process of finishing a draft ordinance for backyard chickens in the residential districts last week, my staff and I came across a section (Sec 139-296(5)) of the Zoning Ordinance that allows, “temporary buildings and uses for construction purposes as permitted by the board of appeals for a period not to exceed 1 year.”  Last year we searched for restrictions pertaining to temporary uses with the City Attorney in order to locate any that would apply to the construction trailer since it is placed in the single family section of the church’s parking lot (the bulk of which is zoned for multiple family residential). At that time, the City Attorney and I reviewed the zoning code under the belief that the laws of our community would not allow this but we came to realize that:

  • Temporary Uses, in Sec. 138-106, are too narrowly defined with the express intention of that section being “to permit permanent businesses … to occasionally have outside sales, outside events”
  • Sections discussing specific uses were limited to promotional events, community special events, Woodward Dream Cruise, and charities/not-for-profit events and were not written in a manner that offers the city an enforcement remedy.
  • Temporary uses are typically defined more broadly than what is found in our text and should require a permit or approval for temporary sales trailers that accompany new residential or commercial construction
  • City is not able to require site plan approval because the text of the ordinance is too constraining and Division 7 only requires a site plan for any “development” of which the temporary sales trailer does not meet minimum of significant construction, structure or earth change of a permanent nature.
  • The attorney’s conclusion was that the trailer did not violate the text of any code of ordinances.  Any enforcement action taken under this section of the code has little chance of being upheld.

Section 138-296 is titled, “Principal uses permitted” and falls under the standards for all single family residential districts.  This was the exact type of regulation we were looking for previously but it is out of place as far as its location in the Zoning Code. This is most likely the reason why city staff, the City Attorney, concerned residents and those who would like to see the trailer removed from the Church’s property were not able to locate this upon earlier reviews of the Zoning Code.  Strangely, the code does not provide any standard for approval or denial for the board of appeals to follow but the code is clear in this mandate and it must be followed.

Recently, an ongoing Facebook conversation questioned why the city allowed Our Lady of La Salette Roman Catholic Church and the Harvard Commons developer to use the parking lot for a temporary, construction/retail trailer.  As sometimes is the case with social media, the conversation took a bit of a accusatory tone with some jumping to the conclusion that the city officials were willfully disregarding the city’s zoning codes to allow the trailer’s continued placement.  I hope anyone reading this understands that the notion that the city is purposefully disregarding its ordinances to benefit Mark Adler Homes LLC is simply misplaced.

Any action the city takes has to be backed up in the actual text of the Zoning Code which is the standard that outlines the uses and buildings that are appropriate based on the district and context in which they are placed. I am happy to deliver this information and as I had to be the bearer of that bad news when residents asked about the trailer. I think this is a good opportunity to address this and any other potential deficiencies hiding in our Zoning Code and bring them into compliance with modern best practices. At a minimum, the code should be updated to expand the definition of Temporary Uses in Sec. 138-106 and/or clarify standards for determining approval or denial for temporary, construction related uses.

April 4, 2017

Sidewalks & Public Spaces
The city has been working to improve our community's walkability in the midst of our residential building boom. Construction has oftem impaired our resident's ability to safely occupy sidewalks next to active build sites. At the April 3, 2017 City Council meeting, the City Council conducted a work session on a slate of proposed ordinances that address sidewalk and construction safety. Follow the link to see my presentation to the City Council: Sidewalk and Construction Ordinance Proposal

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