OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council held a public hearing on several issues related to the Sonora Shores condominium development at their Tuesday, May 4 meeting.
The first of three hearings regarding the five phase, 85 unit multi-family complex with amenities, was a closed-testimony hearing on whether to grant the development a Zoning Conditional Use Permit (CUP), said Chris Branch, Oroville’s director of Economic and Community Development.
The hearing was closed to testimony because an open-testimony hearing had already been held by the Oroville Planning Commission. This hearing was for the city council to hear staff and planning commission findings and recommendations.
“Does this vary from the original Conditional Use Permit?” asked Councilman Jon Neal.
The project never was issued a Conditional Use Permit, according to Branch.
“Their permit, under the prior owners, was issued as a hotel development. Under that permit they are allowed outright in the commercial zone,” Branch said. “It can’t be used as a hotel as now it is multi-family units and that would require more parking, but the permit in consideration would allow for overnight accommodations.”
Councilman Tony Keopke made a motion to issue the Zoning CUP and it received a second from Councilwoman Neysa Roley and passed unanimously.
The second public hearing was about issuing a Shoreline Conditional Use Permit to develop a public shoreline trail for the use of those in the 85 multi-family units being developed, as well as the general public. This hearing was an open-testimony hearing where the public could give verbal or written comments during the hearing. Branch entered into the record the various findings by the staff, including the planning commission minutes, environmental and cultural aspects and the flood plane permit.
Mayor Chuck Spieth called for public comment and no one in the council chambers asked to speak. However, Branch entered written comments that he had received from Laurence and Dora Hart. The Harts write that they oppose the trail on the Okanogan River along property that has been in their family for over 70 years because of fears of litter and trespassing on to their property.
Branch said under the agreement with Sonora Shore’s developers they would have to maintain the trail in a reasonable condition. The developers have also agreed to return the shoreline area to a more “natural character,” according to Branch.
The trail would end at the south end of 19th Avenue, according to Branch.
“I’ve heard quite a bit of concern from residents in the area that the trail will funnel them down to their property and that there will be a tremendous amount of trespassing. Will their be signs indicating the end of the trail?” asked Councilman Walt Hart III.
Branch said every effort would be made to make the end of the trail obvious and to keep people from trespassing.
“I appreciate the tremendous amount of time that has gone into this application and the completeness of it,” said Councilman Ed Naillon. “I feel the trail would make a wonderful public access to that beautiful section of the river.”
“The trail is intended as a continuation of the present pedestrian project, this is seen as part of the project because the shoreline is owned by the state and a small part by a few property owners. The north end of the trail will probably go around the property owner on the north end of Sonora Shores and around OTID’s property by the new sidewalk. Potentially the trail could be developed across the OTID property and continue on to access Veterans Memorial Park,” Branch said.
Branch said the state Department of Natural Resources, which owns part of the area where the trail will be developed, is particularly interested in enhancing public use of the property.
Naillon motioned to approve the Shoreline CUP and it was seconded by Neal and passed unanimously.
The third hearing involved the vacation of an alley between two pieces of property owned by the developer. There was one objection to the vacation by an abutting landowner. The vacation request was originally sought by the previous owner of the development. Keopke motioned approval and it was seconded by Naillon and also passed.
In other business, Rod Noel, Superintendent of Public Works, reported that the city had tentatively opened Veterans Memorial Park on Monday, May 3. The park was recently transferred to the city by the state Parks Department.
“It is open for day use and will be open for camping soon, we are just working out the bugs,” said Noel. “It is going to be a rocky road but we are working through them.”
Noel reported that after interviewing 55 applicants three former employees of the state park were hired to staff the city’s newest park. He explained that having former employees would aid in the transition between the state and the city.
“We also interviewed a retired couple that have been campground hosts there for 13 seasons under three different rangers. They also gave us good information on the things that have gone on in the past and what to look out for,” he said.
Noel said that although the couple was thinking of cutting back on hosting, he felt they would be available for the upcoming Canadian long weekend, July 1 through 5, the month of August and the extended Labor Day weekend.
“We’re up and running, although it’s pretty bare bones right now,” said Noel.
Oroville City Clerk Kathy Jones said the city had approved the reservation contract with the state. For this year Oroville will continue to use the same reservation system as the state for the park, but will look for a new system in the future years.
Jones also asked if the council wanted to approve the fees for reserving sections of the city’s parks for use for events like weddings and other occasions. The fees discussed were $50 for up to 50 people, $100 for 51 to 100 people and $150 for 101 to 150 plus people. Each of these fees would also require a cleaning deposit refundable if the park was returned to the condition it was found in, as well as rental of a dumpster appropriate for the size of the group. Those wishing to have alcohol would also need permission from the city, as well as a state permit.
The council approved the new fee system and then discussed whether alcohol should be allowed in the Veterans Memorial Park as it was when the state ran it. The council discussed having it in the campground only, rather than all through the park.
“I think we should continue the same policy as the state has,” said Hart, referring to the policy which allowed alcohol consumption by those of legal age in both the campground and in the day-use parts of the park.
“I believe that’s where our patrols will help,” said Mayor Spieth.
The council agreed to keep the state’s alcohol policy in the park and decide next year if they want to make any changes.