SEASIDE - Hunting on sections of rural city property has been shot down.
After discussing options including a system of fees and permits, city councilors on Monday decided to prohibit hunting and trespassing in the roughly 160-acre farm the city owns along Lewis and Clark Road. Safety and liability issues fired the discussion.
The property is used as part of the waste treatment system as a pasture for treated sludge disposal, said Chris Davies, public works director. Approximately half of the area is level and has been used by hunters for years.
"It is my recommendation to the council that we do not allow hunting on our property at all," Davies said. Public works employees are in the area daily and must tend to the operation through all seasons; the primary purpose of the farm should not raise safety questions, he added in a report.
The issue was brought to councilors a year ago, and councilors had recommended allowing the hunting practice to continue for a year but contacting the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for suggestions. ODFW officials were not interested in taking any responsibility or making a game preserve of the property, but said the city should charge a fee for registering hunters and limit the number.
In the past year the city received 50 applications for hunting, Davies said.
"I think some people would be very upset if we closed it to hunting," Councilor Don McKay said, prior to the vote. Enforcement of a closure would be difficult and he would prefer to find a fair way to allow the activity to remain legal, he said.
The city could attempt to enforce a closure by posting signs and having employees contact police if people are caught trespassing or hunting, City Manager Mark Winstanely said.
City Attorney Dan Van Thiel said he has discussed the issue about hunting on city-owned property for 30 years and has consistently recommended against it. "And you're talking to a guy who loves to hunt," he said.
Van Thiel urged councilors to consider the implications if a hunting accident occurred.
"This is a liability issue, folks. There are homes out there ... small acreage ... and (you're considering) people running with high-powered rifles?"
Ultimately, councilors voted 6-1 in favor of a motion to close the area to hunting; McKay dissented.
Also on Monday, councilors unanimously approved a motion to enter into an agreement with Trendwest Resorts to accept financial obligations associated with the first two levels of the resort's parking garage.
The city is getting 181 parking spaces, "but we're treated basically as the owner of one condo unit" in terms of the agreement, Winstanley explained.
The agreement was established by the Seaside Improvement Commission as part of the Trails End Urban Renewal District, but because that district has no more funds, the city would pick up the tab of maintenance and upkeep amounting to roughly $10,000 a year.
Steve Behrens, project coordinator, told councilors the 283-room, $55 million resort south of the Turnaround appears to be on schedule to open in June.
"I'm really excited to see it come to fruition," he told city officials. "Thank you for working with us so closely."
In other action Monday, councilors:
Agreed to a proposed schedule of a series of meetings to further consider the U.S. Highway 101 widening project and a memorandum of understanding with the Oregon Department of Transportation, including a public comment session at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center on April 9, a work session April 16 and a council session May 12;
Approved an ordinance, on first and second readings, to establish a Seaside Public Airport Committee;
Recommended approval for a state liquor license application for Saucedo's at 220 Avenue U;
Approved a resolution authorizing the sale of a roughly 300 square-foot, triangular piece of land on the west side of Quatat Park, setting a minimum bid of $18,200;
Announced two vacancies on the Seaside Building Board of Appeals, urging interested residents to apply.