Tue, Jan. 21

Civil unions debate moves to arenas of Clarkdale, Cottonwood
Smart meters also set for discussion for Clarkdale Council

The Clarkdale Town Council will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. to discuss a civil union ordinance and the use of smart meters by APS.

Four municipalities have passed ordinances this summer allowing couples to file for a civil union, setting down their relationship on paper. Clarkdale council members will discuss the development of either a civil union or domestic partnership ordinance.

While civil unions have seen little organized opposition in the Verde Valley, the possible negative health effects of smart meters have concerned residents in several parts of the state.

Smart meters are digital versions of analog meters that will be deployed in the Verde Valley in early 2014. They send information on a customer's power usage directly to APS, producing a small amount of radiation.

This saves APS money by eliminating meter readers who go out to homes to determine a customer's usage, and is behind the utility's move to request the Arizona Corporation Commission approve rate hikes for users who opt out of the device in favor of an analog reader.

Sedona Smart Meter Awareness will present their concerns to the Clarkdale council. The group's website lists research that links low-level radiation producers, like WiFi and cell towers, to ailments ranging from stillbirths to cancer.

The Sedona council recently voted to opt out of the smart meter program for all of its residents.

There are several reasons to be interested in the discussion before the Cottonwood Council during an early work session Tuesday evening.The meeting in the city council chambers starts at 5 p.m. instead of the usual 6 p.m.

An issue likely to prompt debate, and perhaps citizen comment, is a discussion of the recognition of civil unions. The council has copies of ordinances already approved by Tucson, Bisbee, Jerome and Sedona to consider.

The city attorney Steve Horton states in his memo to the council that all four jurisdictions are similar in the same way.

"The communities that have adopted these ordinances have indicated that they seek to lessen the impact of discriminatory practices against members of the LGBT community, and to provide a meaningful statement of support for the right of all individuals to form lasting and meaningful personal relationships that are respected and recognized under the law, regardless of gender or sexual orientation."

Clarkdale Mayor Doug Van Gausig has asked to present to the council information regarding the American Rivers Verde River Blue Trail proposal, which encourages advocacy for the river and improve access to improve irrigation efficiency and "Beneficial Economic Development that Relies On a Healthy Verde River," such as the new vineyard industry.

The council will be asked to give direction for location of a future city hall. The city has been eyeing a move from the small mostly retail spaces in Old Town into something more appropriate.

City Manager Doug Bartosh said he has advised the council that acquisition of the Rough Cuts building at 10th Street is no longer viable since it was purchased by Verde Valley Medical Center and the cost would be out of range.

That leaves the council two choices. The city has considered building in the space currently occupied by the Old Town Activity Park and neighboring city properties.

There is also the consideration to exchange for the Nackard property on the south side of Main Street between 7th and 8th Street.

Finally, the city expected to give the direction on a proposal for a traffic calming island proposed to be built in the Main Street just east of Cactus Street to slow speeds of traffic coming from the Clarkdale direction into Old Town Cottonwood.
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