GEARHART - Are wetlands violations occurring in Gearhart or not?

The Gearhart City Council held a somewhat acrimonious discussion at the end of its Wednesday night meeting when council member John Pincetich asked Mayor Kent Smith about a letter Smith had received from resident Deanna Mancill alleging wetlands violations.

"These matters are in the hands of the State Department of Lands and all her claims are being looked at," Smith replied. He added it was routine for the state to be involved with wetlands issues in the city and such actions by the state were perfectly normal.

Pincetich, who declined to reveal to councilors where he had received a copy of the letter, said he would like to see a complete report from City Administrator Dennis McNally regarding the alleged violations and how many building permits were affected.

"I can answer that right now - none," McNally stated emphatically. He added that he had not been given a copy of the letter by Mancill, but had discussed the allegations with Smith after being made aware of the claims being made by Mancill.

McNally offered Pincetich the opportunity to browse through a pile of thick building permit files that, McNally said, were laden with completed wetlands inspection and compliance forms.

Smith commented that an conflict had existed for quite some time between the city and Mancill over wetlands issues.

Councilor Ed Tice advised Pincetich that any allegations from Mancill regarding McNally were a personnel matter and, by law, were to be discussed by councilors only in executive session. Tice added that wetlands violations could possibly have occurred as some homeowners sometimes disregard state regulations. "The city has no control over that," he said.

Smith terminated the discussion after Mancill claimed she had been repeatedly slandered by the city. He invited Pincetich to meet with McNally and discuss his concerns and said the council could revisit the allegations at a subsequent meeting.

Councilors considered a request by Marty Olson to hold an SUV and 4x4 Auto Show Sunday in the Kiwi Glass parking area off U.S. Highway 101 N. near Airport Road. Olson stated in a letter to the council that the show will run from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and involve 20 to 30 vehicles. A one-time permit to conduct the event was unanimously approved.

The council held a public hearing to vacate all of Lincoln Avenue bordered on both sides by property owned by the Seaside School District. The actual area to be vacated would be 600 feet by 600 feet, reserving a 20-foot wide easement for utility purposes. The street vacation had been recommended by the Planning Commission to reduce potential traffic problems associated with a new residential development in Gearhart that would bring increased vehicles through the Gearhart Elementary School area.

"This is a tentative decision and must be done by ordinance," City Attorney Bill Canessa advised councilors.

In other business, councilors adopted a resolution extending workers' compensation coverage for volunteer firefighters. "This is an annual approval for the volunteers if they're injured while on the job," McNally said. As assumed monthly wage of $800 will be used for public safety volunteers.

Councilors appointed Todd Schultz to the Planning Commission and considered a possible nomination to the 2004 Oregon Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Mayor's Certificate Award Program. The award program recognizes an individual in the community who has positively affected the lifestyles of Oregon's citizens.

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