City council continues discussion about poultry limits, issues Juneteenth proclamation

The Mountlake Terrace City Council discusses upgrading the decant facility with Public Works Director Eric LaFrance, middle row-left, June 3 via Zoom.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its June 3 work/study session continued discussions about changing the municipal code to allow residents to keep more poultry on single-family properties. The council also proclaimed June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day in Mountlake Terrace. The celebration commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

“Juneteenth symbolizes for many Blacks and African-Americans what the Fourth of July does for all Americans – liberty, freedom, and justice for all,” the proclamation states. “Juneteenth is a day for us to reflect on the suffering caused by slavery, acknowledge the evils of hatred and discrimination, and commit to being allies of our Black and African-American friends, family, and neighbors. Africans forced into slavery left a legacy of determination, strength, heroism, and hope, and Juneteenth is a time for Blacks and African-Americans and their fellow Americans to celebrate and honor this legacy.”

Gov. Inslee this year signed a measure passed by the Washington State Legislature that will make Juneteenth an officially recognized legal state holiday beginning in 2022. The city’s proclamation, however, celebrates the day this year.

Regarding poultry limits, city code currently states that a single-family property can have no more than three small domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, hens and ducks. It also describes the appropriate care and environment necessary to minimize nuisances to neighbors and provide suitable conditions for the animals.

A group of residents in 2020 submitted a request to raise the allowance for poultry to eight birds on each such property. The council had generally expressed their support for the idea earlier this year.  Since then, city staff have been working with community stakeholders to outline what would be included in an amendment to the code.

After a brief discussion period Thursday night, a majority of the council was onboard with increasing that allowance to eight poultry per single-family property. The limit of three dogs, cats and/or other small domestic animals on each lot remains the same.

Councilmembers will vote on the ordinance during their next regular business meeting on Monday, June 7. The amended code will also include requirements that poultry owners keep the birds’ food secure to minimize rodents, and expectations that they remove wet manure, bedding and feed that can help reduce odors and prevent harmful bacterial growth.

The council heard from Public Works Director Eric LaFrance, who recommended a contract with Osborn Consulting to produce engineering design work and construction drawings for retrofitting the city’s decant facility. The contract’s cost would not be able to exceed approximately $56,000 over a four-month period. He said the actual cost is anticipated to be substantially less than that amount because the not-to-exceed cost contains several optional items that the city expects it can do internally. The contracted work would be funded equally from water, sewer and stormwater utility budgets.

Mountlake Terrace constructed its decant facility on the Public Works Department’s operations premises in 2013. It allows for debris collected by the city’s street sweeper and vacuum trucks to drain and dry before being taken to the landfill. That process then lowers disposal costs because those are based on the materials’ weight.

The decant facility consists of three large covered bays where street and utility cleaning equipment can be emptied and washed. But the first bay frequently becomes clogged with large amounts of solids from street cleaning, and there is currently no access for large equipment to remove the solid waste. Any such material that accumulates now must be removed by hand with a shovel.

Retrofitting the facility would allow large front-loading equipment to gain access for performing that removal work. LaFrance said this would save his staff significant time and labor because those duties must be carried out on a daily basis. It would also free up staff for more high-priority utility work.

If approved, the contracted design work would then determine the cost of construction for a retrofit. The council will vote on the proposed work order agreement Monday night.

Then, Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz reviewed a proposed amendment to the agreement with PND Engineersfor design work at Ballinger Park. The amendment would add nearly $21,500 to the current services agreement to address a redesign of the park’s boat dock.

The increased cost was categorized as unforeseen and deemed necessary after that project was redesigned following permitting agency comments and the increased permitting hours required for working with state and federal agencies.

The Ballinger Park project will include a new fishing pier, boat dock, boat launch, and shoreline improvements. Construction is expected to take place in July and August.

City Manager Scott Hugill also reviewed contracts for services with SAFEbuilt and West Coast Code Consultants staff are recommending. The companies would be used to provide both plan review and inspection services to the city on an as-needed basis.

Staff said that given the continuing number of large public and private projects in Mountlake Terrace, they feel confident that the contracts would help the city respond to the needs of the development community and provide competitive services such as next-day building inspections.

If approved, the cost of service in the contracts is based on a percentage of the city’s normal plan review and inspection fees. Funding amounts would be $160,000 for the SAFEbuilt contract and $80,000 for the West Coast Code Consultants contract.

In other business, Hugill told the council the city is making plans to deliver additional portable toilets to Ballinger Park following complaints of people going to the bathroom in improper areas around the playfields at its northern end and by the Mountlake Terrace Community Senior Center. Hugill said he expected those facilities to be delivered to that location soon and was hoping they will be there by Monday at the latest.

The city council will hold its next regular business meeting June 7, beginning at 7 p.m. It will include a continuation of the public hearing considering a request for Town Center zoning code text amendments to specifically designated corner commercial properties. See the agenda and information for watching/participating online here.

— By Nathan Blackwell

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