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Emotions Run High At Council
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It was what wasn’t on the agenda that brought some people out to the recent Riverbank City Council meeting, and emotions ran high surrounding a couple of items.

After the Strategic Plan Update was given by City Manager Jill Anderson at the Tuesday, Oct. 14 meeting, Mayor Richard O’Brien opened the floor to public comments on any item not on the agenda. There were a few members of the public that had some issues to discuss with the city council and not all of them came to offer glad tidings.

Owner of Sin Cal, Jeremy Fennell, stepped up to the podium to express his grievances with the City of Riverbank for not keeping what he said was a deal that was made two weeks ago. Fennell explained that under the agreement with the city, his business was not going to be put on a moratorium list and he was going to be allowed to transfer his tattoo business from the Crossroads shopping center to downtown Riverbank.

Fennell said he was told by city officials that “even though I am an established business the request to move across town warranted the need for the city to protect itself from us by grouping us with new businesses and the rules to protect the city from new businesses.”

The tattoo shop owner said that was a change from the stance the city had earlier taken and he feels that is unfair.

Fennell has been in business for approximately five years in the Crossroads Shopping Center.

Fennell explained the four new points that new tattoo shops will have to follow are: the operator and all practitioners shall submit to and receive clearance from the police department for background check; the operator and all practitioners shall maintain compliance with permit requirements of the Stanislaus County Department of Environmental Health, this includes an inspection of the premises of the establishment; the establishment will only be allowed to operate during hours of 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; there shall be no more than two tattoo establishments located within a thousand feet of each other, distance will be measured by street distance or walking distance whichever is greater.

As a business that has already been established in Riverbank for approximately five years, Fennell said he does not agree that Sin Cal should be treated as a new business and explained that the other established tattoo shop in the city does not have to meet those requirements.

Fennell presented his concerns but, with Mayor O’Brien indicating his time at the podium was up, he had to step away.

At that time, another resident of Riverbank, John Foley stepped up to the podium. He said he is angry with the city because his water got shut off and when he went to City Hall to unravel the issue, Foley was told that he needed to pay his bill. The next day Foley stated that he paid the bill including the 10 percent late fee but was then told he would have to pay an additional $50 fee to turn the water back on. Foley disputed that fee and asked that they turn his water on and he would take the issue to the city council for a resolution. He expressed that he had been to the past three city council meetings and has been trying to resolve the issue for the past seven weeks and has spoken to every member on the council by phone.

Foley said he would like the council to consider changing the policy or procedure on shutting down a resident’s water and has asked the council to add it to the agenda. Foley added that two members of the council said they would add it to the agenda but in testimony before the panel on Tuesday, he said it has never been put on for discussion or action. Aggravated by the issue and what he feels was the city’s lack of compassion in dealing with the situation, Foley even called for the dismissal of Anderson as the city manager.

The public comment session included remarks from a few more Riverbank residents, though Fennell and Foley generated the most interest. Other concerns were raised and some citizens stepped up to the podium to offer a few positive comments to the council.

Since the issues raised by Fennell and Foley centered on non-agenized items, the council could not take any action. However, council members will take the comments into account while reviewing the issues. Anderson stated at the end of public comments that she would be available to discuss any of the issues with the council or the concerned community members.