Prescott dealing with group-home impacts
Originally Published: January 25, 2016 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Proposed code-enforcement changes that aim to give the city more "tools in the toolbox" to deal with impacts from group recovery homes will go before the Prescott City Council this week.A presentation on options for code-enforcement ordinance changes is one of the issues on the agenda for the council's regular meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.A city memo states that the proposed code-enforcement changes date back to a 2014 discussion of potential tools for dealing with neighborhood impacts from community residence uses.That discussion led the city attorney's office to draft four ordinances, pertaining to: Legal non-conforming uses - under the current code, legal non-conforming uses are grandfathered in for one year after abandonment of the use. The draft ordinance would reduce that to six months in all residential zones. Non-residential zones would continue under the one-year requirement. Smoking - the current city code prohibits smoking in city facilities and buildings, with some exceptions. The draft ordinance would add the prohibition of smoking in all city parks and park systems, as well as in some private-property areas.Under the private-property section, the proposed ordinance states that smoking would be prohibited in all multi-unit residence common areas, except in an outdoor common area designated by a landlord as a smoking area; all areas within 20 feet of doors, windows, air ducts and ventilation systems of multi-unit residences, except while passing on the way to another destination; all single-family and multi-family outdoor balconies, porches, decks, patios, carports or areas of any residence from which second-hand smoke may be detected on any parcel other than the parcel upon which the person is smoking.The city memo states that the Smoke Free Act Arizona "allows cities to adopt smoking regulations more stringent than those imposed under state law." Neighborhood preservation/property maintenance - focusing primarily on structural safety, imminent hazards, and slum and blighted conditions. Nuisance property - dealing with disruptive activities such as: loud music; boisterous gatherings; excessive, loud or unnecessary noises audible beyond the property line; altercations such as fighting, disruptive conduct, or brawling; or illegal drug use.City Attorney Jon Paladini has pointed out that any code-enforcement changes would apply city-wide, not just for community residences.The memo states that each of the ordinances "was intended to achieve results that are both effective and legally defensible."In other action, the council will consider higher parking fees, which could become effective by late February at several of Prescott's lakes and trails.A council vote is possible on a proposal by the city's recreation services department to increase daily parking fees at Willow, Watson, and Goldwater lakes, as well as the Peavine Trail, from the current $2 to $3.In addition, the city is proposing increasing the cost of annual passes (one visit per day) from $80 to $100; 40-visit passes from $40 to $60; and 10-visit passes from $10 to $20.The changes also would include elimination of free parking on Wednesday.Prescott City Manager Craig McConnell noted on Friday, Jan. 22, that the fee increases are part of the budget cuts/adjustments that the Prescott City Council approved in November 2015.Included in the more than $1 million in cuts/adjustments were a number of proposed fee increase in recreation services, community development, and the fire department.City policy requires the recreation-fee increases to go back to the council for final approval, McConnell said, while the community development (building) fees and fire department fees require a hearing process. He said the building and fire fees are scheduled to go back to the council in coming months - in time to be in effect by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.A memo for the City Council pointed out that parking fees have been in effect at Goldwater Lake since 1979. Fees went into effect at Willow and Watson lakes in the early 2000s, but were collected on the "honor system." In 2010, the city installed automated pay kiosks at the three lakes, as well as the Peavine trailhead off Sundog Ranch Roach."The revenue collected (approximately $175,000 in fiscal year 2015) has been instrumental in recovering maintenance and improvement costs associated with operation of the city park system," the memo stated.The fee increase is expected to generate an additional $80,000, while the elimination of free parking on Wednesday is expected to bring in an extra $36,000 - for a total of $116,000 annually.If the council approves the fee adjustments at the Jan. 26 meeting, the higher fees would become effective 30 days later, McConnell said.Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or 928-642-0951.