Oroville approves petition for street vacation

Needed step if city to get grant to move street

OROVILLE – The city council approved Oroville Reman and Reload’s petition to vacate portions of streets in the heavy industrial area, a prerequisite of a pre-annexation agreement which would allow parts of several streets to be routed so that only heavy industrial traffic is allowed in certain areas and residents living nearby use an alternate route.

At the previous meeting, Chris Branch, director of Community Development, explained the petition was made to vacate parts of two roads near the business in the heavy industrial area after the company grew to include property on both sides of the road. Reman and Reload feels that as well as helping their wood manufacturing business operate more efficiently, it is also a safety issue for neighboring residents who use the road, according to Branch. The city hopes to secure a grant from the Economic Development Administration in order to make changes to the road’s configuration so that heavy industrial traffic like trucks and forklifts would be separated from other uses, as well as eventually secure an additional railroad crossing near the railhead.

The petition was made to vacate parts of two roads near the business in the heavy industrial area after it grew to include both sides of the road. Reman and Reload feels that as well as helping their wood manufacturing business operate more efficiently, it is also a safety issue for neighboring residents who use the road.

“The staff recommends the city council moves to adopt and approve vacation, conditioned upon satisfaction of the terms adopted in the pre-annexation agreement,” said Branch.

Linda Schwilke testified that vacation of the road would cause a hardship on her and her husband’s business, Paul’s Service, as well as Thompson Bee’s and John Moran, who also operate businesses between Bob Neil Road and Highway 97. She said changing the road at Jennings Loop and 9th Avenue would create a “bottleneck” funneling more traffic down Bob Neil Road which joins with the highway south of their business. She said more people would cut through her property to get from Bob Neil to the highway.

“We are not a through road. This act of vacating this road will cause more to come through It pushes truck traffic on Bob Neil Road to go out the highway, where the road is not wide enough,” said Schwilke.

“The actual vacation will not change truck traffic…. It eliminates an unsafe route, Jennings Loop traffic will be delivered to one location,” said Branch, adding, that the city hopes to improve the junction of Bob Neil Road and the highway at a future date, but currently Bob Neil Road is the county’s responsibility.

“We have a 51-year-old business and I can’t think of one time anything was done for us like what you’re doing to help one business,” said Schwilke. “I’m for economic development, but this ain’t a good economic development plan.

Mayor Jon Neal said he’s had complaints of forklifts and trucks using Dogwood.

“The feel they shouldn’t run on our streets,” he said.

Branch reminded the mayor that forklifts on the street have been a common sight in many areas, especially those near the apple warehouses.

“The railhead is what’s important, the effort is to configure the railhead so we don’t lose it and gain room to expand and a reasonable road. It is the only reason the EDD is looking at it,” said Branch. “From an economic development standpoint, the city of Oroville has more opportunity having than any of the others in the county. The railhead is what makes things happen. If you think of it not being there we would be in a pretty dire situation right now in light of what’s happened to Gold Digger, especially with someone else paying for the changes.”

Councilman David McElheran made the motion to approve the street vacation and it was seconded by Councilman Walt Hart. McElheran, Hart and Councilwoman Roley voted in favor and Councilman Ed Naillon against and the motion passed.

 

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.