Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blog #22 - Community Meeting on Proposed Terrapin Crossroads Project

Fairfax Chamber hosts an Informational Meeting on the proposed Terrapin Crossroads Project

The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce has decided to host a Community Informational Meeting on the Terrapin Crossroads project. The meeting will begin at 6:30 PM today (September 1) at the Fairfax Pavilion. All members of the public are invited to learn about the project and will have the opportunity to ask questions about the proposed performing arts project called Terrapin Crossroads.

The agenda will start with information about the roles and responsibilities of elected and appointed officials that will hear the project and then a discussion of the permit process and the entitlements process. Next will be a presentation of the project description and then a question and answer session followed by public comment.

This is an informational meeting only. No action will be taken and to date Terrapin Crossroads has not had a single public hearing as it is still early in the process. There will be many opportunities to comment at public hearings in the future when decision makers will be asked to weigh in on the project.

6:30 PM

INTRODUCTION DAVID SMADBECK, Co-President, Chamber of Commerce






Meeting Ground Rules

1. Anyone wishing to ask a question must fill out an index card, write their name and their question, then hand them in to the side table at the right of the stage.

2. Questions will be read by the moderator. If a question has already been asked, it will be passed over to the next question.

3. Anyone wishing to make a comment must fill out a white index card with their name and address, then hand them in to the side table at the right of the stage.

4. Only one person speaks at a time; no one will interrupt while someone is speaking.

5. Each speaker will be given 2 minutes.

6. Disparaging comments are discouraged. Everybody will seek to focus on the merits of what is being said, making a good faith effort to understand the concerns of others.

7. This meeting is strictly informational; no vote will be taken and what comes up is in no way binding on the Chamber or any other agency.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blog #21 Public Comments on Terrapin Crossroads, Budget Adopted

Fairfax Town Council Hears Public Comments on Terrapin Crossroads, Adopts Budget and Labor Agreements

Terrapin Crossroads

As the August 17th Town Council meeting began the Mayor announced that Item 12, Introduction of Terrapin Crossroads and consideration of establishing a methodology for preparing a traffic impact study for this project was pulled from the agenda at the request of the applicant. Shortly thereafter the Mayor invited the public to speak under open time for public expression. During “open time” twenty-five people spoke on the Terrapin Crossroads project. A majority of those that spoke favored the project. Concerns were raised on a number of issues ranging from the size and scope of the project to traffic and parking. The project has not yet been heard by any Town governing body.

There is a community meeting sponsored by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce scheduled for September 1st at 6:30 PM at the Fairfax Pavilion to introduce the project, discuss the application process and the environmental review process that will be required of this project. This will be an opportunity for the public to become informed, ask questions and voice concerns. There will be many other opportunities for the public to be involved in the process as this project will be considered by the Design Review Board, Planning Commission and Town Council.

Budget Adopted, Labor Agreements Approved

The Town Council, after many public hearings and months of discussing the Town budget, adopted the Fiscal Year 2011/12 budget on August 17th at their regular meeting. The budget is balanced but required a number of painful cuts to the operating budget; leaving four full time positions vacant, requiring major sacrifices from all employees in the form of a loss of compensation by requiring employees to pay for part of their retirement benefits out of pocket, and the borrowing of $226,836 from the Town’s “Dry Period Fund” also technically known as the unrestricted reserve of the General Fund.

All employee groups signed a two-year labor agreement, which the Town Council also approved at the same council meeting. The second year of these agreements requires employees to pay 5% of the 8% toward the employee paid portion of their retirement. This will save the Town more than $80,000 per year moving forward helping to stem the tide of rising health care and retirement costs. The deficit is caused by four straight years of declining property and sales tax revenues and increasing costs for health care and retirement.

Other actions taken at the Town Council August 17, 2011 meeting:

• Approved Town Council minutes from May 4 meeting;

• Authorized the Town Manager to sign an Agreement with Carol Golsch for Town website maintenance for an amount not to exceed $15,000 per year;

• Authorized the Town Manager to extend agreement with Wayne Bush for capital projects consulting services for an amount not to exceed $40,000 per year;

• Adopted Resolution 11-42 approving the negotiated MOU with the Fairfax Police Officers Association for the period of July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013;

• Adopted Resolution 11-43 approving the negotiated MOU with the SEIU (Public Works employees);

• Adopted Resolution 11-44 approving the negotiated MOU with the Management Group for the period July 1, 2011-June 30, 2013.

• Adopted Resolution 11-45 approving the borrowing of funds for Fiscal Year 2011-12 and the issuance of and sale of a 2011 tax and revenue anticipation note;

• Adopted Resolution 11-46, authorizing the temporary closure of a portion of Glen Drive for a bike race fund raiser on Saturday, October 1, 2011from 8 AM to 5 PM;

• Approved a second amendment to the Town Manager’s employment agreement to increase the out of pocket contribution to the employee portion of PERS to match the contribution agreed to in the Management Group MOU a total of 5% of the 8% employee portion over the two year agreement;

• Approved a second amendment to the Police Chief employment agreement creating an out of pocket contribution to the employee portion of PERS to match the contribution agreed to by the POA, a total of 5% of the 9% employee portion of PERS over the two year agreement;

• Adopted Resolution 11-49 adopting the Fiscal Year 2011/12 Town Budget;

• Approved authority to have the Mayor write a letter on behalf of the Town Council replying to PG&E requesting further assurances to provide notice to Town residents prior to possible future installation of smart meters in Fairfax. Authority was also requested to compose an additional letter to the California Public Utilities Commission requesting their assistance in this matter;

• Directed staff to apply for a grant through TAM for a safe routes to school bike spine project.
Other notes and announcements:

• Chamber of Commerce sponsored Community Meeting on Terrapin Crossroads Project will be held September 1, 2011 at 6:30 PM at the Fairfax Pavilion;

• Fairfax Food Pantry on Saturdays 10:00 AM-12 Noon at the Fairfax Community Church, 1000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.;

• 2 vacancies on the Fairfax Youth Commission for Ross Valley youth between 14 and 19 years of age;

The next Town Council meeting will be September 7, 2011 at 7:00 PM at the Women’s Club.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Blog #20 What is the Public Process for Considering Terrapin Crossroads?

The Terrapin Crossroads project will need the following entitlements from the Town: (1) conditional use permit, (2) parking variance, (3) height variance due to features of subterranean structure and possibly (4) a driveway separation variance. (Note: additional entitlements may be required as the project design process proceeds.) In order for the Terrapin Crossroads entitlement application to be deemed "complete" and move forward for Planning Commission, Design Review Board and Town Council public hearings, the Applicant is being required to complete what is called an "Initial Study" as part of what is required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The Initial Study process involves a detailed assessment by professionals of potential environmental impacts in these areas: (1) Aesthetics, (2) Agricultural Resources, (3) Air Quality, (4) Biological Resources, (5) Cultural Resources, (6) Geology and Soils, (7) Hazards and Hazardous Materials, (8) Hydrology and Water Quality, (9) Land Use and Planning, (10) Mineral Resources, (11) Noise, (12) Population and Housing, (13) Public Services, (14) Recreation, (15) Transportation/Traffic, (16) Utilities and Service Systems; all resulting in a matrix known as “Mandatory Findings of Significance,” which lists whether there is a (a) Potentially significant impact, (b) Less than significant impact with mitigation incorporation, (c) Less than significant impact, or (d) No impact - for any of the sixteen categories above.

Once the Initial Study is completed, if there are no environmental impacts or any potential impacts have been "mitigated" to less than significant, it is filed with the County as a draft Negative Declaration (or Mitigated Negative Declaration, as the case may be), deposited in specific public places for public review, and circulated for a thirty (30) day period with all pertinent public agencies for review and comment.

The (Mitigated) Negative Declaration will then be considered for certification at the Planning Commission (PC), which is a prerequisite to approval of the project entitlements by the PC, the Design Review Board (DRB) and Town Council. Importantly, if any potential impacts cannot be mitigated to less than significant levels, then the applicant would be required by CEQA to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The final stop in the entitlement process, unless there is an appeal to Town Council of any decisions at either the PC and/or the DRB is with the Town Council for final approval of the (Mitigated) Negative Declaration and the Traffic Impact Permit.

Please note that in the Town of Fairfax, for a project of this nature, a "Traffic Impact Permit" is also required as part of the entitlement application process. As the first step, per Town Code, the applicant is required to obtain Town Council approval of the methodology to be used in the traffic analysis that it prepares as part of the application process. Typically, this is in the form of the "Scope of Service" to the agreement between the applicant and their traffic consultant conducting the transportation/traffic analysis - before commencing the analysis. Once the methodology is approved by the Council, the study is commenced and the report is written for review by the Planning Commission and Design Review Board public hearings on the Use Permit application.

Finally, assuming the project is approved at both of those public hearings, the Town Council is required to approve the final professional analysis after a peer review by a traffic consultant retained and directed by the Town (at the applicant’s expense).

Therefore, the first step in the public participatory process has been scheduled for the Town Council meeting on August 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm at the Women's Club located at 46 Park Road to approve the Scope of Service (i.e., the "methodology") for the Traffic Analysis.