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Ripon won’t waive water fee for garden

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POSTED July 8, 2014 1:26 a.m.

Organizers in charge of starting up a Ripon Community Garden have the blessings of elected leaders to go forward.

Unfortunately, they’ll still have to fork out for irrigation water for the 2.25 acre area at 1179 Vera Ave., south of Doak Boulevard.

Ripon City Council last week denied Community Garden’s waiver request for the minor site application fee ($566) and waiving payments for metered water.

The latter was for non-potable water at the monthly rate of $6.19, and the metered rate at 39 cents per 100 cubic feet.

The item was brought before the council since the Planning Department, in this case, has no authority on fee waiver requests.

“It does not appear that anything (written) permits the City to waive such application fees without amending or changing the ordinance,” said Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart.

He added: “There is language that allows Council to waive fees, but it would have to be done by adopting a resolution.”

Council, in order for that happen, would have to look for findings of public purpose in order to waive such fees so that it’s not a gift of public funds, according to Zuidervaart.

As for the metered rate, Director of Public Works Ted Johnston indicated that the current resolution only covers residential water use.

The Ripon Community Garden, meanwhile, has planter boxes for the 30 available spaces. Plans call for growing produce and donating them to the local food banks.

Sharon Butler, who, along with Kurt Hodges, represented the Ripon Community Garden. She received the green light to go forward with the project.

Council approval was not needed.

“You’ve went through the appropriate application process and you can go forward with the project,” said Zuidervaart to the Community Garden folks. “Tonight’s meeting was about getting the waiver request and not the project itself.”

Council, in addition, suggested that Community Garden reach out to the Ripon Garden Club, Ripon Livestock Boosters, and the Ripon High school farm once established.

“All of these groups are very active and have a vibrant following,” Mayor Chuck Winn said.

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