Shady cove planning expects ordinances to be followed

The May 27th Shady Cove Planning Commission meeting definitely had a feeling of the Old West about it.  In part because the property which was the main topic of discussion for the evening contains a log cabin – you know the one – “that” cabin on Hwy. 62. However the western feel went deeper than that; so deep in fact you could almost smell the sagebrush and visualize the sun glinting off a shiny new badge as the planning commission stood in the center of town and declared “There’s a new sheriff in town, and things are gonna be changin’ ‘round here.” For that indeed is the pervading message of the planning commission – “What happened in the past is irrelevant; we are going to clean up this city and we are going to follow the ordinances.”

The meeting began quietly with Buzz Thielemann and Angalee Sutton from RHT Energy Solutions giving the planning commission the same presentation they had previously given to City Council on April 1st regarding the building of an energy efficient model home in Shady Cove. From there it moved to a continuance of the Public Hearing regarding zoning issues on property owned by Flywater, LLC.

It was then on to the matter of a site review on the aforementioned log home, owned by E.F. (Ernie)  Dodson; the planning commission badges went on and the Ordinances were pulled out. In bygone days (2007) Dodson had initially applied for and received a Conditional Use Permit allowing him to remodel the log home for commercial use. Then life happened, years passed and Dodson did not get the remodeling done. The Use Permit changed to a Site Review as Dodson modified his initial application; however he had not modified the original site plan and therein the conundrum lay. With the property being highly visible landscaping was on the minds of not only the planning commission, but also City Planner Dick Converse and Public Works Manager George Bostic. Converse suggested xeriscaping (xeriscaping refers to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation – from the Greek “xeros,” meaning dry.) as a water savvy and attractive option.

Dodson was thrown by the landscaping caveat to approval and even questioned if it were legal for the planning commission to request same. He was assured it is and is part of the ordinances. Commissioner Donna Barret advised Dodson that with his property being so highly visible and right at the “gateway” to the City the planning commission is very concerned that the finished product is an aesthetic one.

Other issues surrounding approval included some confusion on highway access and the key issue of would Dodson, if given another approval, actually complete the work in the 6 months granted. The six month deadline was imposed to ensure either the work gets done, or the log structure is removed. Again “there’s a new Sheriff in town”.

Dodson assured with a deadline in place, complete the remodel, though he continued to fret over all matters landscaping, he had not planned nor expected to be required to landscape to the degree the planning commission is now requiring.

In the end the matter was continued to the June 10 meeting so Dodson can have an updated site plan prepared and everyone will have a clear view of what is being approved (or declined). Additionally research can be done on the previous application and the matter of Highway access can also be clarified.

What will happen with Dodson’s property remains to be seen, but the message is clear; if you plan to build in Shady Cove aesthetics will matter so Google xeriscaping and have a clear vision for your landscaping on paper before you come before the planning commission.
By Christy Pitto
Of The Independent

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