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Sun, Nov. 17

Rehab centers back on Prescott Council agenda

PRESCOTT - In a new meeting format this week, the Prescott City Council will take on several issues that have generated debate in the past.

Rehab centers, the Granite Street Parking Garage, and government access television will be among the issues on the agenda for the council's "caucus" meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday, at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

Councilman Charlie Arnold, who has spearheaded the recent discussion about issues surrounding rehabilitation centers in Prescott, said Friday that this week's discussion would allow the council to consider its options on the matter.

"We will discuss what the city can do, and what it can't do," Arnold said.

When the issue last emerged in early December, officials maintained that the city's hands were tied in many respects, because the U.S. Fair Housing Act prohibits it from treating residential group homes for the disabled any differently than it treats other single-family homes.

But Arnold said a somewhat different legal perspective has emerged on the matter. For instance, Arnold said, the city may be able to require buffers between different group homes.

"We'll bring forward what some of the options are," Arnold said.

While Arnold had earlier suggested the formation of a private-sector group - facilitated by the city - that would work to resolve issues with group homes, he said he has been awaiting the arrival of the new city attorney before organizing such a meeting. (New City Attorney Jon Paladini took on the position in January).

Arnold said Friday that he expects to set up a "stakeholder" discussion by about the first week of March.

Also on Tuesday's agenda will be a discussion of the downtown parking garage - its entry/exit layout, security, fee days, and downtown employee parking.

Arnold said he has heard concerns from downtown business owners about the parking fee their employees must pay to use the garage on busy weekends.

Currently, parking is free at the garage most of the time, but the city charges a $5 fee for about two-dozen downtown events. In all, the city charges fees in the garage on about 35 weekend days.

Tuesday's meeting will take place in the city's new "caucus" format, which will involve a roundtable discussion among council members.

Prescott Communications and Public Affairs Manager Melissa Preston said the city plans for the caucus meetings to take place monthly on the third Tuesdays of the month. The meetings will feature a less-formal setting for discussion of issues that have not made it to the council's workshops or voting meetings.

The council members will meet in city hall's council chambers, but will sit around a table, rather than at their regular seats on the podium.

The caucus meetings will be open to the public, but likely will not include public comment.

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