City to continue public hearingCANNON BEACH - The Cannon Beach City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday to continue the public hearing on annexing property north of town until July. Applicants failed to get enough valid signatures on the petition, the council decided.

The proposed annexation was of eight tax lots in the urban growth boundary north of Sixth Street between Ecola Park Road and U.S. Highway 101. The assessed value of the combined properties is more than $1 million.

A majority of the seven landowners had to sign the petition asking for annexation. Four signed, including Dale Lang, who intends to buy property from Bill Hildebrand. Ron Larson, who was representing Lang, said Hildebrand had authorized Lang to act on his behalf. But Larson did not have the authorization with him, so the council agreed Lang's signature was invalid.

Six people spoke during the hearing with concerns about road access, the possibility of landslides and effects on wetlands, Logan Creek, wildlife and neighboring properties. The possibility of 30 or more new dwelling units was a major concern. Several landowners would be able to develop their properties if annexed.

"We're not obligated to provide a supply of land product for people to develop," said Planning Commission member Buzz Johnson, speaking as a private citizen. He pointed out that Ecola Park Road is the entrance to Ecola State Park, which he called "one of the real jewels of the North Coast" that needs to be protected.

The Planning Commission's recommendation was to deny the annexation request. City Planner Rainmar Bartl said the basis for the recommendation was that it did not satisfy the comprehensive plan's requirements that the annexation fill a need for land to develop and that adequate sewer and water capacity be available at the time of the request.

Bartl said the commission decided there was enough land within Cannon Beach city limits for development.

He believes the city's wastewater treatment improvements would be finished before any new construction started, and therefore an adequate sewer system would exist. Bartl said the commission disagreed, saying the capacity must be available at the time of the request. The commission was concerned the city might be in violation with the Department of Environmental Quality if construction began on the property before the water treatment plant improvements came on line.

Bartl said he felt the city's regulations were adequate to take care of wetlands issues, stormwater drainage and road access and to make sure there is no construction on unstable slopes. The area is currently zoned residential very low density and would have to change in zone for construction of new units, Bartl said.

Larson and property owner Jim Grant stated their commitment to develop in an environmentally sensitive way during their testimony. "We are willing to talk with neighbors and do whatever it takes to make it work right," Grant said. He said he and his wife Monica Wehby want their property annexed to replace their well water and septic system with city water and sewer systems.

"I think there's a lot that can be developed in a very sensitive way with the environment," Larson said.

Councilor Jay Raskin abstained from the debate and vote because of a conflict of interest.

In other business, Public Works Committee Chairman Bill Bennett reported the committee works to maintain roads and streets, drinking water, stormwater and wastewater treatment. The committee may look at parking and bike paths, which are not their responsibility, but relate to items that are, Bennett said.

Current projects include the Matanuska Pump Station design and the wastewater treatment plant upgrade, Bennett said. The plant was designed for 20 years and is in its 25th, he said. "We've been very lucky that the thing hasn't gone conk."

The system is scheduled to go to bid in early 2006, Bennett said. The committee is considering a staff recommendation to move the treatment plant slightly. Bennett said that would be about $100,000 cheaper than reconstructing the plant on the same area. Moving the plant out of the low part of the Ecola Creek basin would put it on geologically firmer ground, he said. Moving saves the city from creating a temporary plant "in a trailer or something" during construction.

The higher level of water in the current area means the construction company might have to pump out a great deal of water, said Public Works Director Joy Gannon after the meeting. Moving would save the cost of pumping.

The committee is working on stabilization of the landslide-prone S-curves on Hemlock Street near Chena Avenue. Bennett said the committee wants to drill pilot holes underground. He said members want to see if providing drainage would improve slope stability.

Councilor John Williams said the city hired an engineering firm to study the matter 10 years before. "We can continue to pour money down a rathole and never come up with a solution," he said.

Bennett said the other option of hauling in rock to stabilize the slope is not really an option. He said it would require permits from "God knows who."

The council applauded the committee's dedication and commented favorably on the credentials of the members. Raskin suggested members become involved in emergency preparedness because of their knowledge of wastewater issues.

The council also:

• Approved a sidewalk on the west side of South Hemlock Street from Sunset Boulevard to the Haystack Rock Beach Access 4-1. Williams voted against in what he said after the meeting was a symbolic gesture to his previous time as Cannon Beach City Manager, when he had promised not to approve sidewalks all over Cannon Beach;

• Amended the Bicycles and Skateboards municipal code to keep human-powered vehicles with three or more wheels that are designed to convey more than one person off Hemlock Street, Ecola Park Road and any sidewalk within the city. The vehicles, especially surreys operated by Outdoor Fun for All, must have a map affixed showing the areas they can go;

• Agreed to a work session to discuss whether part of the transient room tax should go toward the renewal and replacement fund for city infrastructure;

• Added "a residential use in conjunction with a permitted use where the residential use does not exceed 50 percent of the building's floor area" to the uses allowed in the General Commercial zone;

• Voted 4-1 to re-elect Tom Ayres to the Design Review Board; Councilor Carmen Swigart voted for Janet Kilpatrick;

• Agreed to meet about the Oregon Coast Birding Trail at a time to be set;

• Heard a staff report that 50 people have applied for the position of Cannon Beach City Manager. Applications will be taken until June 13.

Bartl reported city staff met with the Seaside School District and have selected architects for a new Cannon Beach Elementary. A bond may be on the 2006 ballot, Bartl said.

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