Council held first meeting of 2024

The Yuma City Council held its first meeting of 2024 this past Tuesday night in the Council Chambers in Yuma City Hall.

All seven members were present — Mayor Ron Swehla, Mayor Pro-tem Marc Shay, Tim McClung, Jerome Benish, Dan Baucke, Marylu Smith-Dischner and Terri Frame.

The council had several residents in attendance in regards to a couple of different issues.

Members of the Gordo family were present use of some of their land located toward the west end of town near the West Plains/Nutrien facility.

They have used the property for decades to house some horses and cattle. However, it came to light over the past year that it is not allowed usage. The family had applied for a conditional use permit, but it turns out it is not zoned properly for that, as it is Residential-3 and not Industrial-1. Property actually needs to be zoned Agriculture to harbor livestock.

City Manager Scott Moore told the council the Gordos will be refunded the fee they paid to file for a conditional use permit, and he and the family have worked on some options. Moore said the council could choose to do a “spot zoning” but that is very rare.

The Gordos said if they come up with some other plan, they will get back together with Moore. Gabe Gordo said how the property is used has never been a bother to anyone.

A public hearing for a home occupation at 404 Homestead Trail was held. Tara Korf has a nail salon business and wanted to get everything done correctly. She has submitted all the paperwork and paid all the fees, plus letters have been sent to all homeowners living within 100 feet.

The council was told none of the neighbors have responded with objections.

However, neighbor Jeanette Sims was present at the meeting to voice concerns. She said her family moved to Homestead Trail partly because it is a quiet street. She said it was nothing personal, but if there is one home business on the block, what is to stop there being a bunch more in the future. Sims said she has three young children, and is worried about increased traffic and even more wear and tear on the dirt road.

Korf said she has had a nail salon for years, most of her clients are mature adults, she has maybe one customer per hour, and her driveway is big enough to accommodate customer parking off the street.

The council unanimously approved the home occupation.

With it being a new year, it was time to designate the official posting places for notice of regular and special council meetings. It will remain the front window at City Hall and on the city’s website, though Wells noted sometimes there are issues with the website. The council unanimously approved the resolution.

Two other resolutions were related to the April 2 council election. The council approved having it be a mail ballot election. Wells noted it costs more but there seems to be a better turnout. The other resolution had to do with authorizing Wells to set the compensation for election judges, and to pay the compensation. She said the city pays the same as Yuma County does for election judges. Both resolutions passed unanimously.

Storm report

Moore told the council he wanted to give out a big Thank You to staff from various departments stepping up to help with snow removal during last week’s storm. He said the city was shorthanded due to some being gone for the holidays, but others stepped up to help while also getting their other duties done. He also noted the snow was very wet and frozen, so it was a few days before the windrows could be removed by the city’s blower.

The initial storm hit early Christmas Eve with wind and ice that resulted in a significant power outage that lasted about five hours. He thanked the staff and Baucke Electric for getting it fixed, noting the conditions were absolutely miserable. The city had a spare to replace the damaged equipment at the substation, and the city hopes to have two spares when all are repaired.

McClung asked if a second substation, which the city is considering to do in 2024, would have helped. Moore said it would mitigate issues, providing redundancy. He said the equipment lost last week was minor, but damage to other equipment at the substation could cause an outage that last for days.

Moore also reported to the council about the Yuma Community & Enrichment Center being opened as a Red Cross shelter on December 26 as blizzard conditions left hundreds of motorists stranded in Yuma. More than 90 people stayed the night at the community center. Moore said the city purchased pizza for everyone, adding that the Red Cross will reimburse the city. He thanked everyone who helped.