Luckily for those of you “watching at home” the events of the evening can be summed up with a fair degree of brevity, here goes:
The first application was for a Conditional Use Permit for property at 21501 Hwy. 62 (the RV storage lot in front of the Mini Storage); applicant was Jeffrey Smith. In tune with the night’s “epic theme” this app had a peculiar twist. The applicant hadn’t applied, per se. Complaints about the lot had come into City Hall, upon doing some research, former City Admin Dale Shaddox discovered there was no history of any Conditional Use app by Smith on record. Shaddox sent a letter to Smith, who then applied.
Per Smith he had discussed the storage lot with former City Admin Elise Smurzynski and the use had been OK’d (if not documented), but also allowed that he was more than willing to cooperate with the PC to improve the aesthetics of the property. Then followed a lot of discussion – “a lot” being a gross understatement, but it conveys the general idea. The overall feeling expressed by Commissioners was that they collectively wished they had a time machine and could get a “do over” on the whole property. That not being an option, they rallied back and forth on what things could reasonably be done to make the lot at least somewhat visually appealing. Moreover, Smith’s long term plans for the property (“long term” being defined as “when finances allow”) are to eliminate the storage lot and build a nice commercial building there in its stead.
So – the PC was also faced with asking for a somewhat temporary fix to the current problem – but not too temporary as even the best laid plans can change and the property could end up being a storage lot for time immemorial. The now “traditional” issues of landscaping & sidewalks then came up.
Here’s what they settled on: Smith will put slats (of an aesthetically pleasing color) in the cyclone fence, he will also move the barbed wire down so the fence doesn’t extend the 6 ft. city height limit. He will landscape with sturdy planters; allowing for easy removal if/when he builds a permanent structure. He will come up with a set of regulations about what types of vehicles can be stored (and it will be only vehicles from here forward) and said vehicles will be arranged in a specific manner (i.e. taller vehicles in the rear of the lot to aid with a “cleaner” look).
Lastly he will contact ODOT regarding the feasibility of putting in a sidewalk along 62 and report back to the PC on what that would entail and how it will (or won’t) fit in with a long term plan to have continuous sidewalks through town. When all of those conditions are met Smith will have a 2 year permit which can be extended to 3 years if necessary (i.e. if finances still preclude the building of a commercial structure). Whew.
So ended Round 1 and everyone got a quick break before Round 2: the continuance of the Site Plan Review for E.F. (Ernie) Dodson’s property. Dodson brought with him an updated site plan which sort of showed his proposed ideas for landscaping. The plan was rough, lacking precise detail about what types of plants would be used and exactly how they would be arranged. The PC wasn’t thrilled with the lack of detail, and requested a fully detailed drawing be presented within 30 days.
However landscaping proved to be the lesser issue; it was sidewalks that were the true bone of contention and the topic which caused a spike in the blood pressure of more than a couple folks present. Commissioners Thad Gala and Ed Mayer were most vocal and opposing on the issue. Mayer felt the property just wasn’t one that warranted the stipulation of sidewalks. Gala felt all properties coming up for review warrant sidewalks – and at the very least Dodson should be required – as was Smith – to contact ODOT for their advice.
Gala felt the PC could not make a sound decision either way without having all the information they could gather on the matter. Dodson was vehemently opposed to the idea of contacting ODOT and stated he felt that was the City’s responsibility. The discussion and debate went on and on with neither side showing any sign of tossing up a white flag. Just after Converse’s declaration that his brain was reaching terminal velocity, the Commission finally made a motion to approve the application with no sidewalk stipulation either way. The motion flat lined with a 2/2 vote (Commissioner Lalah Davis was absent).
An exhausted Dodson asked if he could appeal to City Council. Administrator Joe Riker advised he could do so in writing within 10 days and there would be a fee for the appeal. So keep an eye on agendas for upcoming City Council meetings if you’d like to be one of the first to know the eventual fate of that now infamous log cabin on the highway.
By Christy Pitto
Of The Independent