Warrenton - Residents of Warrenton will have another chance to vote on a $10 million bond measure to help pay for the city's new wastewater treatment plant, which should be completed by this summer.
The Warrenton City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to place the bond request on the May 16 ballot. Last year the measure went down to defeat, even though yes votes predominated, because too few registered voters cast ballots. A 50-percent voter turnout is needed to validate it. The 20-year bond issue would be paid for by property taxes. Otherwise, ratepayers will have to foot the bill through a series of sharp increases in utility rates.
In other action during Tuesday's meeting, Lum's Auto Center took another step toward moving its operation to Warrenton from Astoria, where it's been in business for 36 years. After a public hearing, the commission tentatively approved Lum's request to rezone the company's five-acre property on the west side of U.S. Highway 101 at Dolphin Avenue from residential to commercial. But before site design can go forward, the city must accept Lum's analysis of drainage in the area, and the city, along with the Oregon Department of Transportation and the state Department of Land Conservation and Development, require Lum's to submit a traffic impact study.
Pete Field, Lum's planning consultant, said the dealership is moving to Warrenton because it needs more room to meet its franchise commitments, and assured members there is plenty of room on the property for dealing with drainage issues, as well as for on-site parking and expansion.
He commended the city for its new rules on the appearance of buildings. "We like the look of buildings that look like they should be there," Field said. "We want to work together," he added.
Co-owner Julie Lum told how her grandfather came to Astoria more than 100 years ago, and her father worked for 36 years to pay off the business. "We want to continue to protect our 57 employees and be part of the community," she said. Construction is expected to start as early as this summer, she said.
In other business, the commission voted to go out for bid for a new garbage truck, which Commissioner Terry Ferguson said would probably cost up to $200,000. Warrenton is the only jurisdiction in Clatsop County whose garbage is not collected by Western Oregon Waste, although WOW provides recycling service and also collects garbage from several large businesses, including Costco. A task force is studying whether the city should continue to provide garbage service or switch to WOW.
Commissioner Mark Kujala said going out for bid on a garbage truck will give the commission a way to determine true costs of garbage service so, when the task force makes its recommendation, there will be accurate figures for comparison. A WOW proposal would maintain Warrenton's current residential garbage fees. An analysis last year by City Manager Ed Madere indicated rates would go up 30 percent if the city stays in the garbage business.
The commission formally adopted a 2006 City Action Plan that includes goals developed at a workshop in January. Several of the goals have to do with the city's water and sewer systems. Others deal with reviewing the sanitation system, economic development, intergovernmental cooperation, recreation, use of city-owned land, the storm water system, code enforcement and improving the Hammond Marina.
The commission also approved a letter of support for a group working to find a way to fund maintenance for cemeteries in Clatsop County, although members opposed forming a special taxing district for that purpose.
Fire Chief Ted Ames' request to donate a 1965 fire truck to the Oregon Fire Service Museum Memorial and Learning Center in Brooks was approved. And the commission enthusiastically endorsed Ames' plans for a community tsunami preparedness presentation to be held 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 8 at the Warrenton Community Center.