Thursday, February 08, 2007

Update on various items

Here's what I've submitted for my column in next week's Ross Valley Reporter.

Flood Control District: At the February 7th Council meeting, the Town Council voted to remove the condition which was keeping the Town from full acceptance into the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District No. 9. The resolution of annexation now has a clause as follows: “The Town Council provides concurrence to the annexation with the understanding that during the feasibility phase of any proposed project within the Town of Fairfax, the District shall provide to the Town all documents pertinent to the project to allow for review and comment by the Town Council.” This revision was acceptable to the County. All Council Members expressed awareness and concern for the need for a regional process for flood control. The next step is the rollout of the property owner mail ballot election to fund seed money for the Ross Valley Watershed flood control effort. I will provide more details in a future column.

Strategic Planning Meeting: The next strategic planning meeting of the Town Council is scheduled for Saturday, February 17th from 9 a.m. to Noon in the Women’s Club. The first part of the meeting from 9-10:30 a.m. will be combined with the Economic Development Advisory Committee, and Marin Town and Country Club owner Michael Mackintosh has been invited to dialogue with the Council and Committee regarding future plans for his site. The second part of the meeting from 10:30 a.m.-Noon will focus on the issue of the police consolidation study.

Floodgates: In order to encourage the installation of flood gates, the Town Council recently approved the waiver of permit fees for the installation of floodgates for any structure in town, a savings of approximately $80 per installation. Floodgates can be an effective and quick way to protect storefront properties during the threat of flooding. Floodgates are also much more effective than sandbags at keeping high water from damaging your property and are much less time consuming than filling and stacking sandbags. The Town has a sample plan for floodgates available at no cost. The plan is an example of a typical floodgate, but not necessarily one that is appropriate for every property. Installation of these gates is a worthwhile investment, and while they are most typically installed for business structures, some residential structures may also benefit depending on the design on the home. Our staff is eager to help with any questions regarding floodgates. Please feel free to contact Mark Lockaby, the Town’s Building Official, at 458-2370.

Wood burning appliances: In order to reduce the particulate emissions in the air we breathe, the Town Council at its February 7th meeting agreed with Council Member Susan Brandborg’s proposal to move forward with an ordinance regarding woodburning appliances. Such an ordinance would require the conversion to cleaner-burning fireplaces and woodstoves upon new construction or remodels. The ordinance would have an educational component to educate residents on the health impacts of wood smoke, and encourage cleaner-burning alternatives such as gas-fueled devices, pellet stoves and proper wood burning techniques to build hotter, more efficient fires. A wood burning fireplace emits almost a half-pound of particulate pollution in just one evening and wood smoke is responsible for about 30% of wintertime air pollution in the Bay Area. The ordinance would have a phased-in approach and hardship provisions for those who rely on wood burning as their main home heat source. The ordinance details are still being developed and the draft will be brought back for further discussion at the March 7th Council meeting.