Oroville’s Interim Critical Areas Ordinance extended

OROVILLE – Concurring on the need to incorporate changes suggested by the state Department of Ecology, the Oroville City Council agreed to another extension of the city’s Interim Critical Areas Ordinance.

At the public hearing held at the Tuesday, Aug. 21 council meeting, Chris Branch, Director of Community Development, reported on the progress being made in drafting the Critical Areas Ordinance. He said the revisions suggested by Ecology would require more time to incorporate before final adoption and integration with the city’s Shoreline Master Plan, which is being updated. The Oroville Planning Commission has recommended adoption of the final draft, which the council expects to have soon so they will be able to review it.

Councilman Jon Neal made a motion adopting Ordinance 817, which extends an “adopted interim official control regulating development and other activity within those critical areas requiring protection under the Washington State Growth Management Act and providing moratoria and interim official control and establishing an effective date, be adopted as read.”

Branch explained that Ecology did not like the size of the buffers for wetland.

“They said they weren’t wide enough. They said we didn’t use Ecology’s recommended buffers based on science,” said Branch. “We worked on the revisions between 2007 and 2011 when Ecology came out with a guidance document with a model ordinance that gave more flexibility to cities.”

The result, Branch adds, was wetland delineation based on point values for habitat values.

“Also, we can’t use the Critical Areas Ordinance to regulate within the shorelines… that came out of an Anacortes case,” said Branch.

Also appearing before the council was local businessman Spence Higby. He said he had issues with being sent a Clean-up Notice for the mess in back of one of his Main Street properties when several other buildings and residences have the same problem.

“At least 30 or 40 residences in town violate the same ordinance and don’t have the proper ‘curb appeal,’ if you will,” said Higby, who assured the council that his renters had cleaned up the problem area.

“I think it is a good plan if the police go out and enforce these ordinances, but if they do it they should enforce them all.”

Higby suggested an assembly be held at the schools to also talk about bicycles and skateboards on the sidewalks.

“There are signs all over, but if the ordinances are not enforced it just teaches young and old disrespect for the law,” he said. “I say to you, don’t be based on a complaint system, but suggest you as a city council look at your own front step.”

Higby said he couldn’t find the ordinance regarding these types of notices on the city’s website. He suggested the city reference the ordinance quoted in the letter stating the section of code covering Clean-ups.

Mayor Chuck Spieth said he and the council used to take tours of the town, writing down anyone that needed to clean their place up.

“We may have been remiss this year,” the mayor said.

“I’m not making a complaint about receiving the letter, just that it was based on an ‘anonymous’ complaint,” Higby said. “The weeds have been cleaned up and it is much improved. It took awhile to track down the renter, but when I did, they did the work.”

Rod Noel, Superintendent of Public Works said the city keeps track of all the materials it uses to spray weeds and where the spray is applied.

“We’ve done several acres worth,” said Noel. “The USDA requires us to keep these records. The city is trying to spray all the weeds, but we haven’t got around to all of it yet.”

“I think we should take pride in our town and keep up appearances,” added Mayor Spieth.

Steve Quick, Superintendent for the Oroville School District, appeared before council asking for a revision agreement for the school’s use of city property adjacent to the football field and track. The revision adds all uses and activities on the property, not just construction of the press box.

“It was determined the school has used the property for may years and it was determined it is city property. We’d like to move forward and replace the worn out press box,” Quick said. “One thing we are going to do is move it 20 feet north of where it is currently so it is more centered on the 50 yard line. We realize it is city property and the school has to take on responsibility and liability for its use.”

Kathy Jones, the city clerk, suggested the agreement name the city as an additional insured. Councilman Tony Koepke moved to sign the agreement with the changes, was seconded by Councilman Neal and passed.

Branch also updated the council on the Theissen annexation proposal.

“Paul Theissen from Saskatchewan made a proposal to annex the old Weitrick properties on Balmes Road,” said Branch. “One of the nearby property owners that did indicate they wanted to annex in at an earlier time doesn’t want to do so now. Since Paul contacted us it seems he is in a hurry to sell and wants to know if we can annex his properties alone.”

Annexing the Theissen property alone would create an “island” which the city would rather avoid, according to Branch.

“I said the city is not in a hurry to do so, because if we take out the neighboring property it will be harder to annex at a later date. The staff recommends at the Department Head level, as does the Planning Commission, that we do not annex,” Branch said.

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 the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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