A challenge to a Brookings Planning Commission variance to allow Claron Glen Homeowners Association to close walkways is scheduled to be heard by the Brookings City Council Monday.

But theres a good chance it might not happen because the council may not have a quorum.

Councilor Rick Dentino would have to disqualify himself because he was a planning commissioner when the variance was approved. Mayor Bob Hagbom, as a resident of Claron Glen, would also be unable to vote. The absence of one other city councilor would result in no quorum to rule on the challenge.

At issue in the appeal is a variance granted to the homeowners association to close common walkways within the subdivision without installing sidewalks on the west side of Third Street and Midland Way.

The appeal was brought by Wayne Robinson, a resident of Helen Lane, whose property abuts the east side of the subdivision.

The lack of sidewalks on both sides of the street creates serious hazards for people, especially children, who live in the area, Robinson stated in his appeal.

Of the planning commission meeting at which the variance was approved Robinson said, 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.

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

The cypress trees were planted by South Coast Lumber, developers of Claron Glen.

Robinson and another Helen Lane resident, Richard Calkins, were recently charged with first degree felony criminal mischief for cutting down or topping a number of the 30-foot-tall cypress trees.

According to Brookings Planning Director John Bischoff, the Claron Glen Subdivision was approved in April 1990 to create 73 lots from a 38.63 parcel of land. The property is located on the north side of Hassett Street between Second Street on the west and the Brookings Meadow Subdivision on the east.

When (it) was first proposed, it was presented with the concept of internal walkways and sidewalks on just one side of the street, Bischoff said.

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

Phase II of Claron Glen was recorded in May 1994.

By this time the applicant, South Coast Lumber Company, realized the residents within the first phase were not happy with the common walkways, Bischoff said.

Complaints, he said, 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.

South Coast Lumber decided to put sidewalks on both sides of Timberline Drive and to keep the internal walkways as just common area.

Bischoff said the common walkways of Phase I have become a problem for both the city and the homeowners association and is a source of contention between neighbors. He said the city has received complaints from residents of the Brookings Meadow Subdivision that the walking trails were not being kept open for walking purposes.

Residents also claimed the trails created a potential danger from undesirables hiding in the bushes.

The city in turn has had to contact the homeowners association and require that the walkways be kept open, he said.

This has been an ongoing problem, even with compliance by the homeowners association (because) their response at times is not fast enough to satisfy the complaints.

Bischoff added, Each property owner has 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.