Councilors vote 3-1 to uphold Heilman's repairs of structureThe Portway Tavern windows issue has come to an end.

Unless someone appeals Monday's Astoria City Council's decision to the state's Land Use Board of Appeals within 21 days.

The council, however, has made its final ruling on the matter by ratifying the tentative decision members reached Sept. 16 that upheld an appeal by Councilor Bob Heilman against an earlier ruling by the Historic Landmarks Commission on the windows he put in to the historic Portway Tavern.

The council voted 3-1, with Councilor Blair Henningsgaard dissenting, to uphold the appeal, the same vote as on Sept. 16.

The issue sparked considerable public and private debate and even played a role in Heilman's unsuccessful re-election bid. He lost to newcomer Joyce Compere, who will take his seat on the council in January.

Heilman had little to say this morning. "I don't think I have anything more to say about it," he said. "No comment."

The HLC had found fault with Heilman for using windows that were neither the right size nor style to complement the building's historic value. Heilman, who also owns the Labor Temple Cafe and Bar, bought the 79-year-old Portway building in 1997.

During Monday's meeting, councilors were presented with two sets of "findings of fact" that were written to support its decision from the Sept. 16 meeting. One was prepared by the city staff and the other was from Heilman and his attorney. Much of the council's discussion Monday concerned which set of findings to support.

If the council's decision is appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals, the city will not pay to defend its decision, so it is in the interest of the applicant to draft their own findings, explained Community Development Director Paul Benoit.

But the council chose not to use Heilman's findings - opting to go with those prepared by the city staff.

"I didn't think (the findings) needed to be that wordy," said Councilor Loran Mathews. "It was stating the case rather than just going to the findings."

"I just think Mr. Heilman's findings inserted a lot of language in there that's not necessary," Henningsgaard said.

When asked about the findings this morning, Heilman expressed some frustration with the fact that he had invested time and money to hire a land-use lawyer to prepare the findings.

"The money I put into the findings is flushed down the drain with what happened yesterday," he said. "I think that is pretty obvious."

The staff's findings will now become the official backing for the council's decision, but Heilman's findings will still be part of the record. If someone wants to appeal the decision, Benoit said they must have already commented on the matter and be part of the official record.

In other business Monday, the council:

• Approved a low bid of $15,500 from Kauppi Trucking to replace the current 11th Street sewer outfall. City Public Works Director Mitch Mitchum said during high tide, water from the Columbia River can flow through the outfall and make its way up to Marine Drive. Mitchum said with a new tide gate on the outfall, rainwater can flow out but tidewater will stay back.

• Amended the lease between the city and Port of Astoria for Maritime Memorial Park to include a small parcel of land. This will push the park's boundary about 10 feet further to the west. Parks and Community Services Director Kevin Beck said this would allow the city to replace an old fence and improve the area's landscaping, at a cost of $3,000.

• Adopted the proposed findings of the Public Works Department to purchase 10 new aerators for the wastewater treatment plant to improve the plant's efficiency and reduce electricity use. Mitchum said it will cost about $256,000, but the city should get an incentive payment from Pacific Power for $77,139 and a loan from the state should cover the rest. He expects the city to save about $24,500 annually on its electric bills, and the savings will pay off the loan in about seven years.

"We'll save more money in energy than it will take to pay off the loan," he said.


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