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Revised encroachment permit process approved

IMPERIAL CITY COUNCIL:

September 06, 2001|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — Encroachment topped Wednesday night's Imperial City Council agenda.

The council discussed and subsequently approved a proposal that the city encroachment process be revised to require that any homeowner who has an intention of building any kind of decorative structure or planting in a city right-of-way be required to get an encroachment permit from the city.

That permit would come with certain conditions and requirements, the main one being the city would need to have a full understanding of the nature of the encroachment and the purpose it would serve.

Should the city need to access that right-of-way for the purpose of repairs or other work and that encroachment be disturbed, it would be the responsibility of the homeowner to restore it to its previous condition, if the homeowner chose to do so.

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City Manager Vincent Long stressed the city would be protecting its property and that encroachments needed to be fully documented and permitted by the city.

Another matter discussed was a request by an El Centro City Council member for Imperial to join in forming a task force to explore the possibility of a referendum to impose a quarter-cent tax to fund emergency services in the Imperial Valley.

The council voted to approve John Lau, director of finance for the city, to be its representative on that task force.

Mayor Mark Gran raised the matter of the proposed building of a federal detention center for low-risk illegal immigrants in the Imperial Valley. He and other mayors in the Valley had been approached by a company interested in contracting to build and operate the facility. The mayors had been asked to write letters of support to the federal government concerning the proposal.

Gran indicated that at least one local city has offered a letter of support and that the county is strongly in support of the project. He noted the company in question has said that it would use as many local sub-contractors as possible if awarded the contract. The proposed facility would have an estimated payroll of $14 million and some 80 percent of staff will be local hires.

Gran noted if such a facility is built, the company awarded the contract will have a time constraint of only one year in which to complete the project. He added the construction contract is estimated to be worth $65 million.

A motion was passed to have Gran write a letter of support.

Gran raised the subject of having an invocation at the beginning of each council meeting. He noted that the county Board of Supervisors has such an invocation and the U.S. Congress had a long tradition of prayer.

City Attorney Dennis Morita cautioned that there may well be the potential for someone to object on a First Amendment basis but if the council ensured that such an invocation was done on a strictly ecumenical basis with all faiths within the city represented, the council should proceed to a vote. The motion was approved.

At the close of business, Long reminded the council that a Planning Commission workshop would start at 6 p.m. Sept. 12, followed by a general meeting to discuss Redevelopment Agency matters at 6:30.

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