City going back to in-person meetings effective July 12

For the first time in 16 months, the Philomath City Council will gather on July 12 for an in-person meeting at City Hall. Citizens will again have the option to attend physically as well, although the meetings will continue to be live-streamed on Facebook and comments will be accepted through the Zoom videoconferencing application.

The decision did not come without debate and the vote was not unanimous during a June 28 virtual council meeting.

Oregon officially reopened with the lifting of restrictions that had been in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Oregon Occupational Safety and Health removed the mask and physical distancing requirements on Wednesday in most settings, exceptions being at health-care facilities and airports, following Gov. Kate Brown’s declaration last week.

The physical return to City Hall also applies to the city’s other public meetings, effective July 12.

Councilors had the discussion on virtual vs. physical meetings during a review of the city’s COVID-19 state of emergency status.

City Councilor Jessica Andrade said she was not comfortable attending in-person meetings unless everybody was wearing a mask or if vaccination status was to be checked at the door. City Councilor Catherine Biscoe wanted to hold off on reopening the meetings until information could be gathered on how other cities were handling the situation.

Early on in the discussion, City Councilor Ruth Causey made a motion to require anyone who enters council chambers to show evidence of vaccination. City Councilor Matt Lehman seconded but after further discussion, Causey withdrew the motion.

City Councilor David Low said he would not be comfortable in a crowded room, but City Manager Chris Workman said councilors’ seating would be spread out on the dais. Several city staff members that had been required to attend in the past are excused and those that are in chambers will sit off to the side.

After further discussion, City Councilor Teresa Nielson moved that the public meetings return to the in-person option with no restrictions, although those attending who are unvaccinated would be encouraged to wear a face covering in consideration of others. Causey seconded the motion and it passed on a 5-2 vote with Andrade and Biscoe against.

City offices reopened to the public on June 14 and employees with proof of vaccination were no longer required to wear a face covering or practice social distancing while at work. Office visitors still had to follow those mandates but that is no longer the case with the state’s recent lifting of restrictions.

As for the state of emergency in Philomath, it remains in place until the statewide emergency declaration expires.

In other news out of the June 28 meeting:

• The council held a public hearing to collect comments regarding the city’s Main Street Plan, a support document for future updates to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. No citizens provided testimony. Biscoe had several questions and concerns that she brought up to be discussed during deliberations, which will occur at a future meeting.

• The visitors and petitions portion of the meeting drew comments from Peggy Yoder (high speeds on South 15th Street) and Rose Bricker (support to continue live-streaming meetings, Park Advisory Board duties review).

• The council approved a resolution on a 5-2 vote (Andrade, Biscoe nay) to adjust appropriations in the General Fund to avoid an accounting overexpenditure.

• The council rejected a motion on a 4-3 vote (Andrade, Biscoe, Lehman yea; Causey, Chas Jones, Low, Nielsen nay) to allocate $10,000 toward an engineering report for skate park improvements. See separate story.

• The council approved 5-2 (Andrade, Biscoe nay) resolutions related to the adoption of the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. Additional information included in a separate story.

• The council approved an ordinance on a 5-2 roll-call vote (Andrade, Biscoe nay) to update the city’s system development charge methodology reports.

• The council approved an ordinance on a 5-2 roll-call vote (Andrade, Biscoe nay) to amend city zoning related to the future location of recreational vehicle parks.

• The council approved an ordinance on a 7-0 roll-call vote to amend city code to establish standards in keeping with Philomath’s timber town theme.

• The council approved an ordinance on a 7-0 roll-call vote to vacate a north-to-south alley from the railroad tracks to Pioneer Street between North and 10th streets.

• The council rejected a motion on a 4-3 vote (Causey, Jones, Low, Nielsen nay; Andrade, Biscoe, Lehman yea) to direct the Public Works Committee to meet with Park Advisory Board members for an evaluation process. A motion to discuss Park Advisory Board duties in a City Council work session with that group along with the Public Works Committee members passed on a 4-3 vote (Causey, Jones, Low, Nielsen yea; Andrade, Biscoe, Lehman nay). Additional information can be found in a separate story.

VOTING RECORD
URBAN RENEWAL AGENCY
Following is a list of votes taken by the Philomath Urban Renewal Agency at its June 28 meeting:
• To approve a consent agenda that included the June 14 minutes. Motion: Low. Seconded: Lehman. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To approve Resolutions 21-01, 21-02 and 21-03, adopting the 2021-2022 Urban Renewal Agency budget, making appropriations and collecting the tax increment. Motion: Low. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).

CITY COUNCIL
Following is a list of votes taken by the Philomath City Council at its June 28 meeting:
• To approve a “call to question” to move forward with a vote on the table. Motion: Low. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 5-2 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe).
• To approve Resolution 21-08 appropriating excess expenditures. Motion: Low. Seconded: Nielson. Vote: Passes 5-2 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe).
• To approve a “call to question” to move forward with a vote on the table. Motion: Jones. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 6-1 (Yes—Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade).
• To include a $10,000 allocation specifically tied to the “Philomath Action Skatepark,” amended to be earmarked for an engineering report. Motion: Biscoe. Seconded: Andrade. Vote: Fails 4-3 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Lehman; No—Causey, Jones, Low, Nielson).
• To approve a “call to question” to move forward with a vote on the table. Motion: Causey. Seconded: Jones. Vote: Passes 5-2 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe).
• To approve Resolutions 21-09, 21-10, and 21-11 adopting the 2021-22 budget, making appropriations and imposing and categorizing taxes, and to approve Resolution 21-12 declaring the city’s election to receive state revenue. Motion: Causey. Seconded: Low. Vote: Passes 5-2 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe).
• To adopt Ordinance No. 847 to update system development charge methodology reports — second reading. Roll-call vote: Passes 5-2 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe).
• To adopt Ordinance No. 848 to amend Philomath Municipal Code Chapter 18 zoning regarding RV parks and Chapter 9.25 regarding ordinances — second reading (related to address future location of RV parks). Roll-call vote: Passes 5-2 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe).
• To adopt Ordinance No. 849 to amend Philomath Municipal Code Chapter 18 adding 18.40.040 material standards and amending code 18.40.030D building setbacks (related to establish standards in keeping with Philomath’s timber town theme). Roll-call vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To adopt Ordinance No. 851 to vacate the north-to-south alley in Block 13 in the city (related to Wenger application). Roll-call vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To begin in-person City Council meetings on July 12 and to require anyone who enters council chambers to show evidence of vaccination. Motion: Causey. Seconded: Lehman. Vote: None (motion withdrawn).
• To open the city’s public meetings to in-person, recommending that the unvaccinated in consideration of others be masked if in attendance. Motion: Nielson. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 5-2 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe).
• To approve a “call to question” to move forward with a vote on the table. Motion: Jones. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 5-2 (Yes—Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low; No—Andrade, Nielson).
• To direct the Public Works Committee to carry out the following actions: With the involvement of Park Advisory Board members, discuss and evaluate the Park Advisory Board structure and function as it exists currently, as outlined in the municipal code and as the current Park Advisory Board would ideally like it to be; as well as report back to City Council a summary and evaluation of the aforementioned discussions and any recommendations to council made by the Public Works Committee and/or Park Advisory Board. Motion: Andrade. Seconded: Biscoe. Vote: Fails 4-3 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Lehman; No—Causey, Jones, Low, Nielson).
• To extend the meeting by 5 minutes. Motion: Low. Seconded: Causey. Vote: Passes 7-0 (Yes—Andrade, Biscoe, Causey, Jones, Lehman, Low, Nielson).
• To discuss the Park Advisory Board duties issue in a City Council work session with the Public Works Committee and the Park Advisory Board on July 26. Motion: Causey. Seconded: Nielson. Vote: Passes 4-3 (Yes—Causey, Jones, Low, Nielson; No—Andrade, Biscoe, Lehman).
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