GOLD BEACH After months of debate and public hearings, the city and county are back on the same page over the expansion of the Brookings Urban Growth Boundary.
The Curry County Commissioners voted 2-to-1 Monday to approve the citys solutions to six items remanded to the city by the Land Conservation and Development Commission after an appeal of the boundary.
Commissioners Marlyn Schafer and Lucie La Bont voted to include the items in the countys comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances.
They also approved the joint management agreements required by the boundary expansion. Commissioner Cheryl Thorp voted no each time.
The Brookings City Council approved similar ordinances and agreements Dec. 11.
The commissioners discussed the boundary expansion for more than an hour. Schafer liked large urban growth boundaries, Thorp small ones, and La Bont was concerned with water issues.
All agreed that the remand items would most likely be appealed to the Land Conservation and Development Commission and possibly the court of appeals after that.
La Bont said concerns the Department of Land Conservation and Development has raised over the citys public facilities plan to provide enough water for fish and development means that development cant proceed until the fish issue is resolved.
This is not the end, she said. This doesnt mean you can bring in the bulldozers yet.
La Bont vowed to hold the citys feet to the fire over the water issues and make it prove over time that fish wont be hurt.
She said state and federal agencies will also be watching what the city does with the Chetco River affects threatened coho salmon, along with steelhead that may also be listed.
Brookings Mayor Bob Hagbom expressed his concern about fish during several watershed council meetings in recent months.
He said then that the city will build more water storage tanks and rebuild and use the old reservoir on Ferry Creek to provide more water in dry months.
While the water issue was of greatest concern to the commissioners, the most time was spent debating whether or not further public testimony would be taken during the meeting.
Fred Hummel, whose appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals resulted in the six items being remanded back to the city, asked to be allowed to speak on procedural concerns.
County Counsel Jerry Herbage left the meeting briefly to discuss the concerns with Hummel out in the hall.
Herbage then advised the commissioners that the term procedural was open to interpretation. He said opening the meeting up to Hummel would open it to comments from all.
He said the official record was closed after public hearings on Nov. 8 and 28, and this meeting was advertised as allowing no further public comment.
He said some who might have wished to comment may not have attended the meeting because they believed that public comments would not be allowed.
Curry County Planning Director Chuck Nordstrom said if the commissioners approved the ordinances that day, they would next go to the director of the Department of Land Conservation and Development.
He said the directors decision could then be appealed to the commission that oversees his department, or even to the court of appeals.
Schafer said more public comment would be allowed during those appeals.
Thorp said, Its a democratic process. It feels like its a done deal without the citizens input. What are we afraid of? Were showing were afraid.
Its been a long, drawn-out process, she said, but its very important. I believe in letting people say their minds.
La Bont said she believed in that too, but also in following procedure in land-use cases. She said all elected officials at the second public hearing agreed to close the public record after that meeting.
La Bont proposed a compromise that would allow a short discussion on procedure, but no testimony on the remands.
Herbage said, Theres a real danger in opening the record. You need to follow your own rules.
La Bont asked, since the commissioners hadnt met as a board on the issue previously, if the public had the right to challenge any of them for a conflict of interest.
Herbage said the commissioners would be taking a legislative action, which was not held to the same standards as quasi-judicial actions.
Gloria Rodgers, a member of the countys Citizen Involvement Committee, then tried to ask a question, but Schafer, as commission chair, ruled against it.
Schafer said she had sat through both public forums, had followed the issue for years, and had 14 years of municipal experience to draw on. She said she was ready to proceed.
Thorp said, Its a large enough issue to not close off public comment. It feels undemocratic.
What more could they say? said Schafer, Everyone has said everything they had to say. She said the second hearing was held to hear all concerns.
I dont think we do have all the information, said Thorp. She said she closed the first hearing too early before a lot of people had a chance to speak. She said many of them didnt come to the second hearing.
La Bont said she also had an extensive background on the issue, and had listened to tapes of the one hearing she missed.
I have more information than I need, she said, Some people are just trying to delay the process.
She said the size of the boundary had been approved by the county commissioners in 1995. She said what they were to decide was the six remand items.
Thorp disagreed and said the size of the boundary expansion could still be changed. She also disagreed with Schafer that the Department of Land Conservation and Development had already approved the citys remand solutions.
Nordstrom said if more public comment was to be accepted, it should be at another joint meeting so the Brookings City Council could also hear it.
Herbage said every person within the proposed boundary would have to be notified, under Measure 56 requirements, at $1 per address.
Given that, the commissioners decided to discuss the boundary issue among themselves and allow Thorp to introduce any new information.
Thorp said the Department of Land Conservation and Development informed the Citizens Involvement Committee that more work was needed on Brookings public facilities plan on water conservation.
Nordstrom said the plan would be the next step after the commissioners adopted the six remand items.
He said the state agency wanted its language included in the citys plan, which didnt bother the citys staff.
La Bont and Thorp then gave their views on the six remand items.
On issue No. 1, commercial lands, La Bont felt the city had provided justification for projected needs.
She said the issue was remanded to the city because of what the state later admitted was a miscalculation by its staff.
Thorp said she had evidence that Brookings growth had been only 60 percent of what had been projected over the past 7 years.
She said the 2000 census showed the countys population dropped by 2.5 percent since 1990. She questioned the need for more land.
Issue No. 2 required the city to come up with alternatives to water withdrawals from the Chetco River during late summer months.
Thorp said it wasnt enough for the city to say it would plan for water conservation. She wanted to know specifics.
La Bont agreed. Being on paper isnt enough, she said.
Issues No. 3 and 4 had to do with including Harbor bench farms inside the new boundary.
La Bont said no testimony had convinced her that the parcels included could be farmed.
Thorp said no crops other than Easter lily bulbs had been tried on those parcels. She objected to surrounding the entire farm district with development.
Issues No. 5 and 6 covered joint management agreements between the city, county and special districts.
Thorp said the Citizens Involvement Committee issued a revised report asking that water and geologic studies of the Harbor hills be done. We owe it to our CIC to examine their recommendations, she said.
La Bonts only concern was that geological and hydro-geological studies be paid for by developers and not the citizens.
Schafer had no problem with the citys responses to the remand items. She said the boundary is a planning tool to give the city control over huge sprawling growth.
The facilities plan would not allow things to happen that shouldnt happen, she said.
Thorp agreed that the boundaries are good planning tools, but not with a 3,500 acre expansion.
Nordstrom said only 1,500 of those acres are buildable. Thorp said with a declining population, she favored a 550-acre expansion.