City talks recycling, noise and gun club

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The city council had a lot of ground to cover during its meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19, including recycling, changes to West Liberty's noise ordinance and a new gun club lease.

Deputy City Clerk Kristin Madsen presented several companies interested in providing curbside recycling to West Liberty, along with a comparison list of pros and cons.

The city is looking into an overhaul of recycling, which may include changes to how the solid waste department is handled. Discussion of one has naturally brought up discussion of the other.

"I also looked at some different options for outsourcing not only the curbside recycling, but solid waste," said Madsen. "With these vendors, also came the other proposal, because the companies can offset a lot of their solid waste expenses by doing our recycling as well."

However, the planning stage is still young, the city has yet to file an official request for proposal (RfP) to any possible vendors regarding recycling.

"This wasn't an official RfP, I informally requested of these three vendors 'here's what we're looking at, can you give us some information?'" said Madsen, "What came back was an apples to apples comparison."

Comparison notes included curbside recycling can sizes, the number of times they'd pick up cans monthly, residential communication and pricing. The names of the vendors were not discussed because of the informality of the information

However, none of the vendors would significantly change the way West Liberty handles its garbage, they would simply take the responsibility out of the city's hands.

On that note, the comparisons showed that handing over the responsibility of waste management wouldn't affect the current cost significantly. As of right now the city spends around $29,000 a month on waste disposal.

Council member Bill Cline raised the question as to what will happen to current city employees in the waste department if the duties were to change hands to an independent vendor.

"At this stage we're just trying to find out what it would cost to add recycling, and then what it would cost us to get out of the solid waste business entirely," said Mayor Thomas. "I understand your concern for a couple reasons. One, you hate to cut jobs if that's where it would go. Two, the guys that work on the garbage crew do other things for the city."

He believes it's too early in the recycling decision to handle the future of the jobs, but wants to have a discussion regarding the topic when the time comes. The council agreed.

Also, the council is discussing changes to residential recycling only, no changes to how recycling and garbage disposal is handled for community businesses.

Accordingly, the council made no major decisions regarding recycling during the meeting, Madsen's information was purely for information. The city will work toward recycling changes in the upcoming months.

Next, the council discussed how to deal with ATV use within city limits. Community member Colleen Frahm originally complained about her neighbors use of the vehicles being too loud.

However, at the moment, the city is unable to find a proper noise ordinance to deal with the complaint. It made major changes to its decibel system in 2004. The changes made the the ordinance more subjective to the situation, rather than just relying on a decibel meter.

But at the moment, the city cannot find the actual ordinance.Therefore, the council is looking into either creating a new noise ordinance that would redefine the levels of acceptable noise within city limits, or employing a nuisance ordinance similar to another community.

Up until this point, loud noises were dealt with as criminal matters of disorderly conduct. But, using ATVs is not criminal. Thus the need for a noise ordinance has resurfaced.

Interim City Manager and Police Chief Lawrence McNaul looked into how other cities deal with ATV usage; however, very few had any helpful information.

Council Member Robert Hartman brought up an ordinance in Iowa City that states any loud noise that crosses property lines must be dealt with by the police.

"I think probably at this point from the city staff, what they're looking for from the council is do you want them to try and come up with a new ordinance, or look at something different? Do you want them to try and use existing nuisance ordinances and deal with it on a case-by-case basis as things come up," said Mayor Thomas. "What sort of direction does the council want to take? It doesn't sound like other communities have really addressed it because it doesn't come up that often."

Hartman will send out a copy of Iowa City's ordinance for review from council members this week. They'll come back for more discussion at the next meeting.

Finally, the council approved a new lease between the city and the West Liberty Gun Club. The old lease expired and needed to be updated.

The agreement leases out the land to the club for $1 a year until July 21, 2085. It allows for the lease to be revisited every 10 years starting in 2033.

If either party should choose to pull out of the lease it now has the ability to do so. It's a mutually beneficial agreement that will allow the city to continue to use the club for the police department's firearm training and other needs.

It will also allow the gun club to rebuild buildings that burned in a January 2013 fire according to Iowa Code. The club had been unable to go ahead with construction without a final lease.

Before a final settlement McNaul was asked to inspect the land, specifically its placement of earth berms (mounds) that stop stray bullets from leaving the property.

"We did a walk through at the range and we don't see anything that would be of any concern," said McNaul. "They have good procedures in place."

"I felt very positive and I think the gun club folks are very positive about the lease as it stands," said Mayor Thomas. The council approved the new lease 5-0.
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