Safety key reason for SC partition denial

The Jan. 13th Shady Cove Planning Commission meeting proved a very educational one. Lessons learned included: when it comes to city planning at least, you really can plan too far ahead and sometimes it’s best to just wait; and even issues which seem simple at first are worth discussing as many minds and eyes may spot potential problems.

The first issue tackled was a major land partition of property on Highway 62. The applicant, Z. Idelle Collins, was not looking to develop the parcels per se but wanted to split her property up now so the matter would be handled for her heirs later. However, as with any land partition staff and commissioners had to consider what would need to be done if houses were build on each of the 3 parcels to be created. Though water was (as it always is) an issue; for once it was not the main concern. This time the issue was one of safety. The parcels in questions – as well as existing developed ones – would be accessed by a single private road, allowing only one entry and exit point.

Before the Flywater zone change was denied Collins had a tentative agreement with Mike Malepsy to create a second entry point to her properties via his properties to the north. With Flywater in appeals limbo there is no known way to create a second access point; thus creating a safety issue in case of emergency evacuation.  Further, if each property were to be developed the private road would need to be improved to city street standards. None of this was desired by Collins. She wants to keep her property rural and private. But safety is king and she was advised that if the partition was granted, access and improvement conditions would be placed upon future development. A slightly frustrated Collins stated: “I wish I’d never started this whole thing. I really do.” However she also noted the process had been a learning experience and asked for confirmation that she could build one house on the existing land without the proposed conditions. This was confirmed.

Collins contemplated withdrawing her application; but it was decided to go ahead with commission discussion and vote. Commissioner Ed Mayer spoke first advising that coming from a public safety background he felt one exit route was unsafe and a situation he wouldn’t want anyone in; therefore his vote would be no. The balance of the commissioners felt the same and a motion to deny the partition passed 4/0 (Chair Erin Elder was absent).

The next issue was a discussion of an application for a remodel of a bonus room into guest quarters for a house currently under construction in the White Oaks subdivision. Administrator Danise Brakeman advised that this was an administrative decision but brought the issue to the commission for discussion prior to her decision. Initially the question was whether or not the change would make the room full living quarters, thus technically making the single family dwelling a duplex. City Planner Dick Converse reviewed his materials and it was decided that if the room were wired for a full stove/range then it would be separate living quarters. There was no stove in the plans, so the matter seemed closed until it was noticed that there was another possible issue. Initially the owner purchased one plot, this proved too small so they bought the adjoining plot. Looking at the plans it was unclear whether actual construction went over, or even too close to the plot line. Even though one person owns the adjoining plots rules for setbacks must be observed – so it’s possible the owner will need to merge the plots into a single parcel. More research will need to be done to determine if set back is an issue or not.

So whether dividing property or possibly merging it – you can plan too far ahead – but you can’t plan too carefully; and even the least complex decisions can prove valuable learning experiences.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent


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