NOTES FROM THE June 5, 2023, meeting of the Johnstown Town Council
Observer: Diana Sheek Greer
The meeting was held in council chambers at the Johnstown Town Hall, 450 S. Parish Avenue, Johnstown. It began at 7 p.m. and finished at 7:21 p.m.
Present were Councilors Jesse Molinar, Jr., Andrew Paranto (new), Mayor Pro Tem Damien Berg, Dianne Morris, and Vanessa Dominguez. Absent were Mayor Troy Mellon and Chad Young.
Also present were Town Clerk Hannah Hill; the assistant town manager “Mitzi”; town attorney; Director of Planning and Development Kim Meyer; Jose Gonzales from Pro Code (Safe Built), to advise on the International Energy Conservation Code; and owners of Red Barn Liquors, which was honored as Business of the Month.
The minutes for the May 15 regular council meeting and the May 22 special virtual meeting were approved. The special meeting was to fill the vacant seat on the council, left when Gary Lebsack resigned. The remaining six members were unable to agree at the May 15 meeting. They were also unable to agree during three more votes, deadlocking at 3-3, May 22. The contenders were Lance Walker and Deniece Cook. They discussed having a special election, but decided to reconsider the top four candidates and vote according to a ranked-choice method. The six councilors ranked their choices, and the candidate with the lowest compiled number was chosen. Andrew Paranto, 30, an electrical engineer, was appointed. He participated as a full councilor on June 5.
The council voted, on first reading, to amend the town’s fee schedule, ranging from administrative fees, utility rates, business licenses, court surcharges, cemetery fees, and more. The schedule was overlooked in the annual housekeeping resolution. The aim is to offset the costs of publishing ordinances and other costs associated with revising the municipal code. The town hopes the new document will be easier to use and will encourage an annual review of fees. (Source: meeting packet)
On second and final reading, the council set a municipal election for April 2, 2024, to consider adding water policy to the town charter. The policy would be “for the protection, preservation and assurance of reliable and dependable water resources.” Article 16, Section 16.4 would be added to provide a “sufficient amount of acceptable raw water or cash-in-lieu” from developers, to “maintain a water portfolio equal to or greater than 1.2 times the acre-feet to meet its commitments.” The town could also “create strategic water reserves to facilitate major economic development.” (Source: the ordinance itself)
The council approved a development and improvement agreement for Iron Horse Filing No. 3, with Centerra Commercial LLC (in association with McWhinney Real Estate Services) and the Johnstown North Metropolitan District 1. At the March 22 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Kim Meyer said the land, about 45.8 acres, was annexed in 2006 and will have 11 lots. It was part of the Spreng annexation, lying south of Ronald Reagan Blvd. and east of High Plains Blvd. The town has approved the final stormwater operations and maintenance manual, and the developers have to finish construction of High Plains Blvd. and complete gaps in the sidewalks. The commission approved the plan on March 22. A hearing before the town council was conducted on April 3, and the council voted then to approve it on first reading.
Meyer introduced the proposed adoption of the International Energy Conservation Code 2018, which is expected to require energy cost savings for new buildings constructed in Johnstown. Meyer said the 2021 code, which is updated every three years, wasn’t chosen, because it would have involved a bigger surge in costs for builders. She said some architects are already referencing the 2018 code on their plans. Council approved the ordinance on first reading. The town plans to hold a hearing on this update, at the June 19 council meeting.
In relation to the proposed update of the town’s comprehensive fee schedule, the council, on first reading, a proposal to take the exact amounts of dog/cat licenses out of the schedule. Additionally, if anyone wants the lower fee for a neutered pet, a “bona fide” proof of such surgery must be presented.