Council approves amended fee schedule relating to non-profits

Cambridge City Council
In order to handle public nuisance ordinance violations more
efficiently, the Cambridge City Council approved amending its City Code
during its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Rachel Kytonen
[email protected]

In order to handle public nuisance ordinance violations more efficiently, the Cambridge City Council approved amending its City Code during its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 18.

City Administrator Lynda Woulfe explained a request was made to amend the nuisance chapter within the City Code to add a new chapter on administrative citations. The purpose of the amendment is to clarify what constitutes a nuisance and to implement a prompt compliance process.

Woulfe explained the items were discussed during a council workshop on Dec. 20.

She said the city is amending the nuisance chapter in the City Code due to the inefficient nature of the language in the existing code, especially for the abatement process.

Woulfe said the revised code establishes a prompt abatement process that can be handled directly though the City Council or through an accelerated abatement process for certain nuisances. The city will no longer have to go through the lengthy criminal process through the court system.

“This will give us the tools to avoid the criminal process and handle things administratively,” said Community Development Director Dave Carlberg.

City Attorney Jay Squires said with the courts getting bogged down, the amendment will allow the city to take control of the process and deal with items administratively and expediently.

Council Member Chris Caulk wanted to make sure the amendment included an appeals process. He was also concerned about   situations involving elderly residents, who may need some extra time to get things done such as snow removal or lawn mowing.

Mayor Marlys Palmer said there is an appeals process in place, and if there are extenuating circumstances, it should be able to be worked out.

Carlberg said if a citation is issued, and the resident is working in good faith with the city to get the situation resolved, the city will work with them. He said this ordinance gives the city more control to get things resolved.

The Council also approved a motion to amend the city’s fee schedule.

The discussion with the fee schedule revolved around amending fees for signs for non-profit organizations.

Currently, non-profit organizations that wanted to put signs up promoting different events had to pay a charge per sign. The charges included $15 per sign; $25 for two signs; $40 for three signs; or $50 for four signs.

Based on previous discussions and meetings, the council had the city look at amending the fee schedule to give non-profit organizations a discount.

The proposed fee schedule had non-profit organizations paying $5 for all signs per event. The non-profit organizations would still need to come to City Hall and get a permit for their signs, and pay the $5 fee.

By a vote of 4-1, the council approved the amended fee schedule that allows non-profit organizations to pay $5 for all signs per event.

Council Member Bob Shogren voted against the amendment because he felt all citizens of Cambridge would not be treated equally with the new fee schedule.

“The fee schedule gives non-profit organizations a break,” Shogren said. “I think we need to treat everyone the same and we shouldn’t change the fee schedule for just non-profit organizations … If we vote for this we are treating parts of our community differently, and that is just morally wrong.”

Carlberg mentioned the city planner is working on putting together an educational informational letter to send out to non-profit organizations that will explain the sign permit process, fees associated with signs and a map that shows where signage is allowed.