The Philomath City Council filled a vacancy on the Planning Commission with Hayley Green, who was appointed to fill the seat formerly held by Joey McGlinchy.
Green is a recent addition to the city and shows a particular interest in keeping wetlands, easements, parks and new developments protected.
“I feel like it’s part of my civic duty to be a part of my community and to work towards making it a great place to live and work,” Green told councilors. “I have no agenda. I think it would be great to make sure we’re preserving our forests, our wetlands and our community as a whole while still growing. We obviously need to grow responsibly.”
The selection of Green for the seat came on a 5-2 vote over Lawrence Johnson, the only other applicant for the position.
Johnson said he felt like he would bring a great deal of experience to the position through 35 years of lawyer work in Oregon, 22 years in the Philomath area.
“I’ve been following a lot of activities going on and watching the city in its growth,” Johnson said. “I think I bring an understanding and just my experience levels would be helpful. I think I’m a fact-based kind of person so I like to ask tough questions to make sure everybody’s dotting their ‘I’s’ and crossing their ‘T’s.’”
Before the vote, Councilor Ruth Causey read a statement that she prepared that alleged Johnson made misleading and incorrect statements in a political ad published in a daily newspaper and said she couldn’t support any applicant “who intentionally misleads the public.”
Johnson was a candidate for the City Council in the November election.
Councilor Catherine Biscoe, who said she supported the ad that was published, said word choices could be interpreted in different ways and added that it was not fair to call out one individual without calling out others who in her view have made misleading statements.
“I do find this behavior a personal attack and I do not feel it’s appropriate,” Biscoe said.
Councilor Jessica Andrade followed with similar comments in support of Johnson.
Councilor David Low, however, said he felt Causey’s statements were appropriate.
Causey, Low, Chas Jones, Matt Lehman and Teresa Nielson voted in favor of Green. Andrade and Biscoe voted for Johnson.
In other news out of the June 14 meeting:
• Dr. Daniel Surette of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center provided an invited presentation on the latest status of COVID-19.
• The council hosted a public hearing on the 2021-22 city budget forwarded out of the Budget Committee. One resident, Izzie Elliott, testified in favor of adding $150,000 to go toward improvements to Philomath City Park’s skatepark with additional money to complete such a project to be fund-raised. Elliott suggested removing funding earmarked for restroom upgrades.
• The council hosted a public hearing on the proposed sale or disposal of the steel-framed, self-serve car wash structure located at 1340 Main St. One resident, Peggy Yoder, testified in favor of keeping the structure as a unique piece of Philomath history and asked the council to table the discussion to consider the matter further. Following discussion, the council passed a resolution to declare the structure as surplus on a 4-3 vote.
• The council hosted a public hearing on a request for the city to vacate the north-south alley from the railroad tracks to Pioneer Street between North Ninth and 10th streets. All property owners adjacent to the alley have consented to its vacation. Applicant Andrew Wenger provided comments. One person, Teiya Inokuma, submitted a letter with several questions on the proposal, most of them environment-related. The city will now prepare an ordinance to be presented at the council’s June 28 meeting.
• Resident Dan Miller spoke during visitors and petitions with comments about his fears involving safety at the skatepark.
• The council approved on a roll-call vote an ordinance to amend city code to address future locations of recreational vehicle parks. There was lengthy discussion that led to a few amendments. The issue had been on Planning Commission and City Council agendas dating back to December 2019.
• The council voted to send an issue involving an annual review of a resolution proclaiming inclusivity in the city to the Inclusivity Committee.
• The council voted to enter into intergovernmental agreements with the Oregon Department of Transportation involving general provisions for right-of-way services connected to the city’s streetscapes project. ODOT representatives were on hand to provide comments.
• The council approved on a 4-3 vote funding requests from the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo ($7,000) and the Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce ($3,000) to be used to support tourism-related activities. The Frolic & Rodeo plans to use the funds to improve the Yew Wood Corral near the rodeo arena with increased capacity and improved accessibility. The chamber plans to create maps showing points of interest, restaurants and so on that can be provided to visitors and to purchase a new display rack for the chamber office area. Biscoe voiced disapproval of the process, calling it “suspicious,” questioned Workman’s involvement — he serves on the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo board of directors — and said she could not support the request until more review occurred. Andrade shared many of the same concerns, had various questions on specifics and said the community has been excluded from weighing in. Low defended the request and made reference to timing and the importance of utilizing the funds.
• The council on a roll-call vote adopted an ordinance to implement a 9% transient lodging tax. The Finance and Administration Committee will develop a TLT policy and make a recommendation to the council.
• The council on a roll-call vote adopted an ordinance to update system development charge methodology reports.
• A discussion on the city’s social media policy was tabled.
• Andrade provided a report on the Inclusivity Committee, which included an update on the group’s structure. Andrade said she is a co-chair on the council side and a non-elected community member will rotate in and out of the other co-chair position. She also said everybody who shows up for meetings has a vote. Causey responded by asking the committee to revise its policy giving all a vote because it would be impossible to determine when there would be a quorum. She also suggested that as a city-sponsored committee, the vote should be limited to those who reside in the city or the urban growth boundary. City Attorney Jim Brewer said he does have concerns on the quorum issue and would need to research the residential requirement. Following questions and comments from Lehman on committee objectives and timelines, Andrade said a main concern at the moment “is making sure we don’t cause further harm and create as safe of a space as possible … to be able to listen to people from underrepresented communities with identities that are not in the majority.” Andrade said the committee is planning to take direction from the council but hasn’t gotten there yet with some scheduling issues. The committee is working on a mission statement and seeking inclusivity-related training opportunities.
• In staff reports, Workman said the city is cooperating with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality regarding methane issues with the Millpond Crossing housing development. “They are at a standstill at this point; they’re finishing construction on the homes that have been started but they won’t be completing any additional construction until they’ve submitted a plan and gotten a plan approved by DEQ.” Workman said Millpond Crossing developer Levi Miller is cooperating with DEQ to put a plan together.
• Workman also reported that financing through Business Oregon and the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund for the new water treatment plant is no longer an option with those funds negatively impacted by the pandemic. Instead of a 1.8% interest rate, the city is now looking at a 2.4% to 2.5% interest rate through the state’s Special Public Works Fund. However, he said the city is looking at just financing the reservoir for now and then continue to look at other funding sources for the physical plant construction in the second year. He also added that the State Legislature may provide resources through bills that focus on financing infrastructure projects. Workman said financing is still in good shape and a little bit of a higher interest rate is no cause for alarm.
VOTING RECORD Following is a list of votes taken by the Philomath City Council at its June 14 meeting:
• To approve a revised consent agenda that included the May 10 and May 24 City Council work session minutes and council support letters for the city’s participation in regional discussions of the Bias Response Initiative discussions led by the Oregon West Council of Governments. Motion: Low. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To approve the City Council minutes of May 10 as amended. Motion: Causey. Seconded: Andrade. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To approve to declare the real property described as a steel-framed, self-service car wash structure at 1340 Main St., as surplus to the city’s needs and approve Resolution 21-07 to direct the city manager to sell or dispose of the property through an open process. Motion: Causey. Seconded: Lehman. Vote: Passes 4-3 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Lehman, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe, Low).
• To approve a language change in Ordinance No. 848 under subsection 18.120.0609 (a). Motion: Jones. Seconded: Andrade. Vote: Passes 6-1 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Low, Nielson; No—Lehman).
• To approve a language change in Ordinance No. 848 under subsection 18.120.0609 (b). Motion: Jones. Seconded: Lehman. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson)
• To approve a language change in Ordinance No. 848 under Findings of Fact (4). Motion: Nielson. Seconded: Andrade. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To approve grammar and spelling corrections in Ordinance No. 848. Motion: Andrade. Seconded: Low. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To adopt the findings of fact as amended and approve Ordinance No. 848 relating to amendments to Philomath Municipal Code 18 involving the future location of recreational vehicle parks. Roll-call vote: Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson.
• To ask the Inclusivity Committee to review the inclusivity policy and come back with a recommendation to the City Council. Motion: Low. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 6-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; Abstain—Biscoe).
• To approve intergovernmental agreement No. 34449 and No. 34084 with the Oregon Department of Transportation and direct the city manager to execute the agreements and proceed with the Downtown Safety and Streetscapes Improvement Project. Motion: Low. Seconded: Lehman. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To approve a request for $10,000 to the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo and Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce to support tourist-related activity, with $7,000 going to the Frolic and $3,000 going to the chamber. Motion: Low. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 4-3 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe, Lehman).
• To direct the Finance and Administration Committee to develop a transient lodging tax policy and bring a recommendation to the council. Motion: Low. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 6-1 (Yes—Andrade, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Biscoe).
• To extend the City Council meeting to 10 p.m. Motion: Jones. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 6-1 (Yes—Andrade, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Biscoe).
• An agenda item on reviewing a resolution that declared a local state of emergency related to COVID-19 was tabled.
• To approve language changes to Ordinance No. 846 related to the implementation of a 9% transient lodging tax. Motion: Andrade. Seconded: Biscoe. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To adopt Ordinance No. 846 as amended to implement a 9% transient lodging tax. Roll-call vote: Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Lehman, Low, Jones, Nielsen.
• To adopt Ordinance No. 847 as presented to update system development charge methodology reports. Roll-call vote: Yes—Biscoe, Causey, Lehman, Low, Jones, Nielsen. No—Andrade.
• To table a discussion on a social media policy. Motion: Causey. Seconded: Lehman. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).