The Brookings City Council, without Mayor Bob Hagbom and Councilor Rick Dentino, approved a variance regarding the Claron Glen neighborhood previously granted by the city planning commission in December.

The variance, sought by the Claron Glen Homeowners Association, would deny public access to internal walkways in the subdivision and not require sidewalks on both sides of Third Street and Midland Way.

The variance was appealed to the city council by Wayne Robinson whose Helen Lane property abuts Claron Glen on the east.

Robinsons appeal was originally scheduled to be heard at the Jan. 22 council meeting but Dentino disqualified himself from voting because he had chaired the planning commission meeting at which the variance was granted. Hagbom, as a resident of Claron Glen, also disqualified himself.

With Council President Larry Curry absent from that meeting because of illness, there was no quorum to hear the appeal.

Hagbom opened Monday nights council meeting and when it came time to hear the appeal, he and Dentino left the meeting and Councilor Curry took over as chairman.

At the original planning commission hearing on the Claron Glen variance, 16 residents of Helen Lane, including Robinson, filed petitions against a fence of cypress trees at the boundary between their property and Claron Glen.

Robinsons appeal only addressed the closing off of the walkways while not installing sidewalks on the east side of Third Street and Midland Way.

I feel that very little was actually said about the impact of not requiring sidewalks in the area. A review of themeeting will show that too much was said about trees and not enough about sidewalks, Robinson said in his appeal.

As a result, the city council was barred from addressing the cypress tree issue at Mondays hearing.

Bischoff told the council the concept of internal walkways and sidewalks on just one side of the two streets was a nice idea that didnt work out in practice.

Claron Glen Subdivision was approved in April 1990 to create 73 lots from a 38.63 parcel of land located on the north side of Hassett Street between Second Street on the west and the Brookings Meadow Subdivision on the east.

The first phase of Claron Glen 26 lots was recorded in December 1990 and approved with common area walkways and sidewalks on only one side of Third Street and Midland Way, Bischoff said.

When Phase II of Claron Glen was recorded in May 1994, Bischoff said, the applicant, South Coast Lumber Company, realized that the residents within the first phase were not happy with the common walkways.

Complaints were based on the fact the walkways were along the back yards of the houses, and people walking along them could and would stop and stare at owners having a barbecue or just sitting in their backyard, Bischoff said.

As a result, he said, Phase II, Timberline, was built with sidewalks on both sides of the street and internal common areas rather than walkways.

Bischoff said the variance meets all of the applicable criteria:

One, exceptional or extraordinary conditions applying to the propertyover which the applicant has no control and to which applicant has not contributed,

Two, variance is necessary for preservation of property right of applicant substantially the same as is possessed by owners of other property in the same zone or vicinity,

Three, variance shall not be materially detrimental to the purpose of this code, be injurious to propertyor otherwise detrimental to the objectives of any city development plan or policy,

Four,is the minimum variance from the provisions and standards of this code which will alleviate the hardship.

Bishop added, All residents have the expectation of a certain amount of privacy in his or her back yard and the expectation that the back of their house is not directly exposed to a secluded public area that may be used for illicit entry of their yard or house or other activities.

Closing the internal walkways will provide increased security because anyone walking in them can be challenged as to why they are there, Bischoff said.

Also, he said, when individuals bought property along the west side of Third Street and Midland Way, they did so with the expectation that their landscaping and driveways would not be ripped up to satisfy the intent of an ordinance which allowed the walkways in lieu of a sidewalk on one side of the street that ultimately failed.

Bischoff recommended that a condition of the variance should be that common areas within Claron Glen be maintained in a manner that enhances the common use and enjoyment of the property owners within the subdivision.

Robinson told the council, I dont have a problem with no walkways. I do have a problem with no sidewalks. The lack of sidewalks on both sides of the street creates serious hazards for people, especially children, who live in the area.

Robinson said he and his wife have had several close calls while walking on Midland Way, andquot;where drivers tend to cut the inside loop.

Robinson said with the city attempting to call in DIAs (Deferred Improvement Agreements) for sidewalks in other parts of the city, it gives the appearance of a special dealnot to require Claron Glen Homeowners to install sidewalks.

Councilor Curry said its possible to go to the subdivision almost any time of day and see people walking in the street.

Curry asked Robinson whether the closing of the walkways made a difference in the safety factor.

On a practical basis, the walkways have been closed for years, Robinson said.

Al Francis, a Claron Glen resident, said people walk in the streets because theyre so wide.

When my daughter who is 8 years old was learning to ride a bike I mapped out areas in which she should ride. I cautioned her to avoid the sidewalks and ride in the streets because they are so wide.

He added,The issue is not about sidewalks. It appears to be a smoke screen by disgruntled neighbors.

Chuck Weller, a Helen Lane resident who lives on the east side of the street, spoke in favor of the internal walkways.

I have used the internal walkways I did it a great deal last summer to and from the swimming pool. Its a lot easier than going around.

I have seen people have fences internally for privacy.

Weller said people walk down Helen Lane all the time.

If they stopped to stare at me sitting on my porch, I would probably build a fence.

William Boynton, president of the Claron Glen Homeowners Association, said the association intends to maintain the common area better than it has been.

Councilor Francis Johns asked how the association would close the walkways. Will you put up signs so people cant come in?

We havent decided yet, Boynton said. A lot of this happened before many of the lots were sold. We sort of inherited this situation.

Mike Scram, a Midland Way resident, said most days you can fire a cannon down any street (in the area) and not hit anyone.

People who dont live here are the only ones who are against this variance. We have no trouble, no crime and no accidents. I find the issue absolutely preposterous. Its amazing were all here tonight talking about this.

After determining that Robinson had no further rebuttal evidence, Bischoff clarified some of the evidence presented.

There are sidewalks on one side of both Midland Way and Third Street. Comparing the walkways to alleys alleys are a straight run between two streets, a police cruiser can drive by and see along them. You cant do that with walkways.

On the Measure 7 implication, I think you would have a hard time proving that your property value was decreased because you cant walk across the street and walk in the walkways. And Claron Glen has always had the right to build a fence all the way around their property.

In discussion, Councilor Kuhn asserted that the concerns of the opponents are not founded.

A lot of areas in Brookings do not have sidewalks on either side of the street, Councilor Johns said. Were looking for ways to provide them. Children and seniors need sidewalks to walk on. This has been a difficult time for both sides residents of Claron Glen and Brookings Meadow, put this behind you.

Councilor Curry said that while I would like to see sidewalks on both sides of the street, we have a greater need in other parts of the city.