Shady Cove issues- riparian, event insurance and liability

Webster’s defines insurance as: 1: the business of insuring persons or property or 2: a means of guaranteeing protection or safety; the Dec. 2 Shady Cove council study session and meeting centered on both definitions.

The afternoon began with a presentation on riparian preservation; focusing on insuring it’s protected and preserved for the future. Presentations were given by Dan VanDyke from ODFW, Bill Meyers from DEQ and Greg Stabach from RVCOG. Also present, but not presenting were Peter Mazzini from the URWA and several members of the Rogue Flyfishers Association. The timing of the presentation was ideal as “riparian” is a council buzz word of late with not only the TMDL (Total Mass Daily Load) plan being worked on, but also riparian issues arising in the Flywater re-zone application and a planned riparian project in the Cove involving URWA, DEQ the City and several other partners. On top of all that the Planning Commission will soon begin reviewing model riparian zone ordinances for the purpose of crafting one for Shady Cove. One “hot” topic indeed.

Sadly if work isn’t done on the riparian zone, it could become hot in the very literal and negative sense. The riparian habitat supports more species than any other habitat type in Oregon. All three presentations focused on water temperature in the Rogue and numerous tributaries. The TMDL involves measuring temperature and bacteria in the water – if the temp is too hot not only are the fish at risk, but the people are too as bacteria will multiply making the water unsafe for sport, swimming and consumption. Luckily the presentations were chock full of various solutions. In addition to an ordinance, there is riparian planting and/or re-planting – Stabach showed examples of lovely low-maintenance garden options for private homes that will not only protect the riparian zone, but allow for usability of property and look beautiful. Meyers noted the city might enact an incentive program encouraging folks to create these types of oases. In the vein of “it takes a village” the agencies are willing to work with the city versus just showing some nifty slides and going back to their offices. Stabach advised RVCOG has several levels of assistance packages available and Meyers noted URWA would have a major role as the “go-between” for citizens and the city once an ordinance is in place. DEQ will also help with the implementation of the TMDL plan. So it seems riparian insurance is the type that can’t simply be purchased from a local agent, but requires planning, cooperation and just plain hands on “dirty” work to re-plant.

Under the heading of insurance one can buy from a local agent came the subject of issuing event permits for Tie Days and SPAM. City admin Danise Brakeman began with the Tie Days Permit, noting that the issuance was not a council decision but was at the discretion of the administration. She brought it to council for discussion only as the ’11 Tie Days event is projected to be of a scale the city hasn’t seen before. The evening concert alone could be attended by as many as 1000 folks. With numbers like that, liability was of a concern to the city. Brakeman advised she had called the city’s insurance company and they said the city would be liability free as the event would not take place on city property. Brakeman felt the application should be approved on the condition that event coordinator Kate Crowston provided proof of several conditions being met; i.e. sufficient parking, security, event liability insurance etc. Councilor Leith Hayes was not satisfied and wanted Crowston to purchase additional insurances and name the city as an additional insured. Much – and that’s an understatement – discussion followed. Brakeman noted that if the city required Crowston to purchase additional insurance, precedence would be set and all events would have to follow suit. Note: the extra coverage would cost $1800 – viable for Tie Days, but with other events such as SPAM Fest asking the city for $1500 just hold their fest – such precedence might prove the end for smaller events. Still fear of litigation kept Hayes and others firm in their request for the extra coverage. The Mayor noted that by adding the city as an insured they might make the city appear liable for damages when they were not. After nearly an hour of discussion, the Mayor asked Brakeman to follow up with the League of Oregon Cities prior to the evening meeting to get their opinion on the matter.

Though the study session ended at 4:30, Brakeman was able to follow up and it was quickly decided in the evening meeting that no additional insurance would be required. This was based on the point the Mayor had made: naming the city would imply liability that was not there.

The budget meeting schedule was also set during the meeting and as a last reminder: there are still two seats available on the committee so if you would like to toss your hat in the budget ring, please stop by City Hall for an application. Cutoff for apps is Jan. 3rd and a full committee is necessary to – you got it – insure the fiscal future of the city.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent


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