FEMA permit cost, city hall hours, park public hearing after decision occupies SC

Development permits were the main topic of discussion in the May 21 Shady Cove City Council Study Session. There were two guest speakers at the session, Becca Croft the City’s Certified Floodplain Manager and Lela Davis a resident currently up to her ears in permit issues.    
To summarize, Davis sought to replace her ailing stoop with a porch. She applied for the appropriate permit and paid the $350 inspection fee. She thought the process would be easy from there. However contractors refused the work due to the complications of the property being near the floodplain and finally  Davis hired her son-in-law to do the job. This was not the end of her saga, for FEMA has new rules requiring a No Rise Study be done on the property.  FEMA does not have enough data on the area surrounding Davis’ home and requires the Davis family to pay approximately $10,000 so the data can be gathered and the porch approved or denied.

Needless to say, Ms. Davis is halting construction.

Croft advised she was aware that FEMA required the No Rise Study, but had not been informed of the cost. She will follow up with FEMA to see if there is a less costly option. However, she also advised that care must be taken when building in and around the floodplain. By way of analogy she explained that each item, from porches to entire buildings, built in a floodplain is like a pebble dropped into a bowl of water. With each pebble – the water will rise. The smallest pebble can cause the water to over flow. Therefore even an addition as small as a flagpole must be reviewed with the same caution as an entire home.

Meanwhile, the city will continue to encourage and help folks with construction – minor and major. The council will re-visit the issue of various fees for different sized projects, possibly creating a sliding scale vs. the previously resolved $75 and $350 fees.

Also of import,  Croft advised that FEMA will be issuing new floodplain maps in the future (precisely when is unknown – but likely within the next year). Folks will want to bring their homes into compliance before these maps are official. Details about the maps and possible recriminations of failing to be up to code once they are finalized will be discussed in an upcoming open house to be held this summer. This is an open house you won’t want to miss if your property is in the affected area.

Also discussed during the study session were ideas for expanding the number of days city hall is open to the public. Options discussed was having staggered  lunch hours to keep city hall open during lunch hours and rearranging staff schedules so there can be employees on the premises on Mondays. More research will need to be done on these ideas before the hours can officially change, but the council is optimistic they will find a solution. City hall is currently open to the public Tuesday through Thursday, 9:30-12 n and 1-3:30 p.m.

Moving from afternoon to evening, from Study to formal meeting – the topics and attire changed. So did the available seating. The main event of the evening was a public hearing on the disposition of a portion of land located on Brophy Lane. It was literally standing room only in city hall as folks lined up to make their comments pro or con on the issue, though a few opted to sit on the floor.

The property being discussed is 24.75 acres owned by Flywater, LLC. Six acres will be made into a free city park on the river, with Flywater paying up to $200,000 for the development of the park.   
Bob Kolodny of Flywater, explained the land was ‘”purchased” from ODOT by the City – in name only. The city “owned” the land for just a few minutes then “sold” it to Flywater with the agreement that the public park would be part of the deal.

Executive sessions were held to work out the details of the purchase and some folks wondered if it was all above board. More on that momentarily.

An outside observer at Thursday’s meeting would be baffled to learn that this issue ever spurned any controversy. The meeting was a veritable love fest for the project. Citizen after citizen stood and gave praise to Flywater and its developer, Mike Malepsy. Repeated thanks was given to  Malepsy for bringing the city a park where families could enjoy the river for free. Those singing praises included: former Mayor Ruth Keith, John Borgess, Butch and Lori Silvera, Jeff Johnson and a host of others.

Many commented on the benefit to the children of the Cove, Lois Howell noting that  Malepsy is surely a “recycled teenager” he cares so deeply for the younger generation.

John Burgess stated it was “shameful” that so many negative comments regarding this issue had made their way into the media. He further added that with the addition of the park the city can live up to its “Meet the Rogue in Shady Cove” motto by allowing free access to the river.

Standing alone on the “con” side was Jane Hagen who read aloud her statement wherein she wondered whether or not this public hearing should have been held prior to the purchase of the land and felt the deal was made “in secret and illegally”. She further wondered if the city truly had the money to purchase the land and if all of this was necessary.

After public comment, it was confirmed by Councilor Hughes – who was on the council during the negotiations and purchase – that the city in no way had the money to make the purchase.

It was further noted by the city attorney that though there had been executive sessions to hash out the details of the purchase; no decisions were made in those meetings. All decisions were discussed and voted on in public council meetings. One of the reasons an executive session can be held is to discuss real property transactions, although no decision can be made in those sessions.

There were other matters discussed in the meeting, but it was hard to hear some of them due to the mass exodus of the public following the hearing. Over the crowd noises the mayor joked “please come back” and was answered with an equally jovial “Don’t take it personally” from the crowd.   
Once the din quieted, the council was able to get on to the business of making a public declaration that there will be three vacancies on the planning commission come June 30. Terms will expire for commissioners Stout, Williams and Vairetta. Applications close June 18 with interviews at the June 25 study session. Appointments will be made at the June 25 evening session.   
The meeting was adjourned at 7:50 pm.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent

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