Philomath’s housing market has expanded in recent years as the community continues to grow. In particular, the Millpond Crossing and Heather Glen developments have been mentioned for different reasons during City Council meetings over the past several months.
The topic is an important one for the city and voters might wonder where the mayoral candidates stand on this issue moving forward.
This is the third of a five-part series of questions and answers to be published this week at PhilomathNews.com. Philomath mayoral candidates are incumbent Chas Jones and challenger Lawrence Johnson.
For more information, the Benton County Elections Office uploaded each candidate’s filing form. Information on the forms include details on occupation, educational background and prior governmental experience. Click here for Jones. Click here for Johnson.
In addition, the Benton County Voters’ Pamphlet is available here.
This is the third of five questions asked of the candidates. Each candidate was allowed no more than 200 words for each individual answer with no exceptions. Answers were edited only for punctuation and typos and to conform to newspaper style guidelines (abbreviations, capitalization, etc.).
Housing developments have been a major issue in Philomath over the past few years. What’s your perspective on what the city needs to do moving forward to avoid some of the pitfalls that have been seen?
JONES: The city’s residents need access to affordable housing, water and food. With rising regional home prices, limited housing supplies increase demand and prices. Additional housing will help to stabilize housing prices. In Philomath, housing infill and the construction of smaller, more affordable single family homes and townhouses will help to achieve this goal.
To avoid pitfalls, it is important to learn from the past. We are proactively examining our housing ordinances to avoid being caught off-guard by developments or by unanticipated situations. We need to ensure that poor and marginalized residents are not disproportionately exposed to environmental harms associated with environmental hazards and land use issues.
For current developments, my priority is to ensure that the necessary mitigation measures are implemented to alleviate environmental and safety issues, while providing ever-needed housing to our residents. We also need to ensure that developments in Philomath install the infrastructure that they are required to by city ordinance. We should not expect that our residents foot the bill for infrastructure improvements that developers do through increased tax rates. Through comprehensive planning, Philomath is making meaningful steps towards this shared vision.
JOHNSON: Three of the most recent developments, Millpond, Heather Glen and the Lepman RV park, appear to have had development compliance issues. The review process indicated in my answer to No. 2 will help remedy this issue. There is also a need for more uniformity in the current development process. The issue of proper performance bond insurance, amounts, duration, coverage needs to be reviewed and reports made directly to the City Council for compliance review and approval.
Coming Thursday: City government transparency concerns seem to occasionally surface. Do you believe transparency is an issue? If so, what would you do to fix it? If not, what do you think the city is doing that’s working?
CANDIDATES Q-and-A PUBLISHED Monday, Oct. 17: What do you envision as the role of the mayor and what do you believe constitutes appropriate and effective citizen representation? Tuesday, Oct. 18: What is your top priority for this city over the length of your public service? Wednesday, Oct. 19: Housing developments have been a major issue in Philomath over the past few years. What’s your perspective on what the city needs to do moving forward to avoid some of the pitfalls that have been seen? COMING Thursday, Oct. 20: City government transparency concerns seem to occasionally surface. Do you believe transparency is an issue? If so, what would you do to fix it? If not, what do you think the city is doing that’s working? Friday, Oct. 21: Many in the community believe that the candidates have associated themselves with certain other candidates whether it’s through advertising, yard signs or other means. What are your thoughts on these perceived alliances, including the pros and cons of this election strategy?