Auburn City Council

Monday, Sept. 10

Strategic planning revised

What happened: City officials presented a revised strategic planning process, after several councilors and members of the public questioned its initial framework last month. 

What it means: The process, according to City Manager Peter Crichton, would pare down an original plan of eight subcommittees to three. 

Crichton described the strategic plan as an “important tool to implement parts of the (city’s) comprehensive plan that have not been addressed.”

He said the three subcommittees — growth, quality and investment — will each have four meetings, with the first convening in October. They’ll be made up of city staff, councilors, members of committees and those appointed by the mayor. The process would conclude in the spring when staff would compile info and present the results.

The only dissenting opinion came from Councilor Andrew Titus, who said he’s concerned the council will be “flooded” with information from the three committees.

What’s next: The City Council will vote on the new approach Sept. 17. 

New agriculture committee

What happened: Mayor Jason Levesque presented his previously announced plan for a mayor’s “action group” on agriculture and resource protection, a new short-term committee meant to continue the work of a previous committee that studied Auburn’s Agricultural and Resource Protection Zone. 

What it means: The crux of the issue has been the argument over whether zoning rules put in place decades ago are too restrictive, and whether they could be relaxed to allow for some development that could add to the city’s tax base.

Levesque has said he’d like the committee to focus primarily on what’s known as the “50 percent income” rule, which does not permit a new house to be built in the zone unless the landowner owns 10 acres and earns at least 50 percent of household income from the land through farming, forestry or resource extraction.

Levesque said the new temporary committee will be tasked with crafting draft ordinances that address the income and minimum land use requirements in Auburn’s agricultural and resource protection zone. 

On Monday, he said it will be up to the council whether to amend or act on new ordinances depending on what comes out of the committee. He said he wanted it to be “a different type of ad-hoc committee,” one that will convene for no longer than 90 days.  

Bill Sylvester, who served on the previous agricultural committee, said Monday that the real work of the previous committee “didn’t get magnified enough.” 

He said he’s apprehensive that another short-term committee will be enough to do the topic justice, just as the previous one had gathered momentum. But, his application for the committee is already in, he said. 

What’s next: City officials are accepting applications and is hoping to have the new committee in place by late September. The mayor has asked the City Council to take up a council resolve on the new committee at its meeting Sept. 17. 

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