BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

PUBLIC HEARING

January 17, 2001

6:00 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

 

Commissioner Anna Morrison presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Peter Sorenson and Cindy Weeldreyer present.County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, Assistant County Counsel Stephen Vorhes and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

a. PUBLIC HEARING/Parks System Development Charges (SDC).

 

Craig Starr, Public Works, reported that on October 18, 2000, this matter was before the Board and the interest for a public hearing was expressed at that time.He said they sent out a mailing to 80 stakeholder groups and individuals so they could attend this meeting.He said it had been a concern of Lane Countyís to come up with funding that would allow for the purchase of new properties and parks to accommodate the growth in outdoor recreation activities.He noted that Bob Keefer and the parks committee had discussed how Lane County could meet the needs for outdoor recreation as the population grew.He said that last year, a consultant was contracted to perform an analysis of system development charges.They estimated what that SDC would amount to and if the County was going to look at SDCís as a way of generating revenue to provide land and facilities to accommodate future population growth.He added the analysis came up with $570 per new residential unit constructed in the County.He explained the actual proposal that staff brought forward was to establish an SDC in the amount of $450 that could be justified.He noted if this moves forward through the ordinance adoption process, there will be formal public hearing that would be part of that process.

 

Sorenson asked if there were any legal issues for people who build, sell or occupy a newly residential construction unit, showing connection with the outcome of the SDC.

 

Vorhes responded the issue was addressed in the report that was presented in March 2000 (attached) about the connection and that the additional dwelling units create the need for additional park facilities.He said the way the issue was addressed was looking at the population and how it affected the need for additional park facilities.

 

Morrison noted that on page 6 of the project list, Oakridge could be paying an SDC on capital improvements that would be happening in Fern Ridge.She asked how to bring the fees to where the actual development was taking place.

 

Dwyer noted that the cities, by agreement, agree to prorate portions of the fee that is collected to projects that are close so the citizens that are directly impacted by the projects would benefit

 

Weeldreyer asked how to deal with geographic proximity to assign the benefit to be paid.

 

Vorhes responded that it would be a countywide park system and there could be a policy decision on the part of the Board to allocate resources by area.He noted by doing so, the Board may make the decision that because of development in a particular area, they would fund parks in an area to the exclusion of the rest of the countywide park system.He said it was a policy call with allocation of resources.He added from a system development charge standpoint (looking at the entire development of the entire County and its impact), it doesnít have the geographic location aspect.

 

Weeldreyer asked if this challenge could be defended successfully.

 

Vorhes stated he had not done the legislative history research, but his initial reaction in looking at the concept of a system development charge as laid out in the statute, is that it contemplates a countywide system benefit driven by development.He noted that the funds are limited and canít be spent for improving existing facilities or upgrading, only for new facilities.

 

Commissioner Morrison opened up the Public Hearing.

 

Susanne Dwight Alexander, 5455 Donald Street, Eugene, stated she was on the Parks Advisory Committee.She noted the topic had been on their agenda for a number of months and they unanimously approved it.She urged the Board to support this measure.

 

Rich Herring, 365 E. 49th, said Lane County has livability and he wants to preserve that by increasing parks. He said this was the tool that the legislature had given Lane County and it seems to work.He urged the Board to adopt this.

 

Roxy Cuellar, Lane County Home Builders Association, 1255 Pearl St., Eugene, submitted a packet of letters into the record. (Copy in file).She stated that the Home Builders Association had never been opposed to parks and open space.She said the question was how would they be paid for and noted that SDCís was a way to pay for them.She noted there had to be a direct connection between new development and the demand on services.She said the County has the responsibility of showing that it is County residents and future County residents who will be using the facilities.She noted that most campsites would not be used by County residents, but by people who live outside the area.She said it wasnít fair for people who were buying homes to have to carry that cost.She noted that SDCís could not be used to upgrade existing facilities that are deficient, and could not be used to provide a higher level of service.She said the current problems exist because of the methodology that was chosen.She noted the level of services defined by the amount of acreage in the park system did not match.She stated that Lane County has 11.54 acres per thousand residents, compared to Marion County having 1.9 acres.She urged the Board to revisit the methodology around capital improvement projects.She noted in the last seven months, the fees on houses from the City of Eugene (including this park SDC of $450 and the fees increased by EWEB) has gone up $2,000.She said the reality was buyers and builders would not be able to afford the fees on the lower end homes.She said it was time to be prudent and if the County didn't need to add costs on, not to do it.

 

Stewart Mulford, 350 Pearl St., Eugene, stated he is a member of Friends of Buford Park.He said the major income of the County Parks Division comes from a tax on rental cars. And visitors to the community are paying for the parks.He noted it appeared to be having citizens pay for Lane County parks.

 

Mike Ganson, Ganson Construction Company, 362 Highway 99, stated he builds new homes.He noted if the builder were to incur a greater cost in building a home, the home would be worth more and it could be sold for more.He said that homes are market driven and the timing of the SDC increase is bad.He compared two homes that he had built regarding construction and fee costs.

 

Morrison asked to see the cost comparison.

 

Ganson replied he would supply closing statements and build outs.

 

Ed Kemp, P. O. Box44, Walterville, stated he served on the SDC task force.He said after being on the committee, he came to the conclusion that SDCís were wrong.He noted that a lot of people on the task force were opposed to the SDC concept.He didnít think there would be a 30% increase in population over the next 15 years. He added as the population of Lane County is aging, needs are different than of younger people with children.He said the relation between population growth and demand for parks is not there.He said there is a better way in determining public demand for additional parks; a parks district countywide that would allow the voters of Lane County to determine what is wanted, not a system development charge.He recommended not considering an SDC.

 

Bob Keefer, 942 Northridge, Springfield, reiterated the parks system has had its ups and downs and new ways of trying to fund itself, as no general fund goes to the parks system for any type of operation or development.He said regarding acquisition and development of new facilities, they had used a revenue approach with the campgrounds and grants but there had not been a funding source for development of new facilities or acquisition of new properties and that is why they chose SDCís.He explained that 80% to 90% of people who reserve a picnic facility in the County parks are city residents and 60% to 70% of people who use day use permits are also city residents.He said there is nothing in this where the funds could not be used locally where they are raised.He said it was a policy decision for the Board to use the funds in that area.He stated County parks are a benefit to all residents of Lane County.He noted in the ordinance there is a five-year requirement for it to be reviewed every five years and built in provisions to help with the review.He said Lane County parks are gems.He said this is one tool to help fund parks.

 

Chris Orsinger, 2914 Adams St., Eugene,stated he represented the Friends of Buford Park.He noted in May 2000, their board of directors chose to support the proposed SDC.He said they had seen increased use of the facility and an increase for trail maintenance and restroom facilities. He said it was fair to have some of that funding come from new construction to acquire parks and develop park systems.He said there needed to be money available to access matching funds with the federal government.He said there were many reasons for supporting this and their board was in favor of it.He urged the Board of Commissioners to move forward with the SDC for park acquisition development.He suggested an allocation in the first five years of 50% for land acquisition.

 

Eben Fodor, 394 #. 32nd Avenue, Eugene, testified in support of the proposal.†† He noted the cost of the fee seemed modest in comparison with other cities and counties around the state.He added the effect on housing was small overall on the cost of housing affordability.He suggested the fee of $570 unless there was a clear rationale for reducing the fee.

 

Paul Witt, 89836 Sheffler Rd., stated he is a builder and a real estate agent.He said the park system in Lane County is excellent.He said the fees being assessed should be paid at the park facilities.He said new construction is not new growth for this community.

 

Mike Butler, 826 McKenzie Crest Drive, stated this was a fairness issue.He said he was a big supporter of parks, but they needed to look at the affordability.He said the parks issue is an important one.He said adding additional fees were not fair to the builders.He encouraged the Board to see if it makes sense to add fees in addition to the other cities.He requested the record stay open until Friday, January 20.

 

Warren Weathers, Mayor of Lowell, 29 S. Alder, Lowell, stated that Lowell recognizes that the needs in rural Lane County may not be the same as the metro area.He said Lowellís most critical need is saving schools.He noted that they need younger families to move into the area but they can't because land use regulations had blocked the creation of new homesites.He said they have to increase their sewer capacity that requires an increase in their SDC.He said their total SDC fee for a new home is currently $6,000.He said without the addition of the County Parks SDC, their city park SDC is $200.He added if the total SDC gets too high, it would discourage young families from moving to the community.He said the only way their residents would accept an additional $450 county park SDC would be if it would help solve the school enrollment, affordable housing, economic development, police protection or sewer problems.He said they didnít believe Lane County should be acquiring open space in rural areas as they were already zoned to prevent intensive development and have abundant open space that would continue to pay taxes.He suggested having SDCís apply to areas that would need parks, if revenue from current parks could not finance the expense adjacent to the metro area.

 

There being no one else signed up to speak, Commissioner Morrison closed the Public Hearing.

 

Weeldreyer suggested a work session on this matter.

 

Sorenson concurred with Weeldreyer as they had some varying views.

 

Green also suggested a work session and further discussion around the fairness of the SDC.

 

Morrison concurred.She wanted further information regarding the letter sent to all the cities on the SDC charges. She wanted written verification from other cities as to where they were regarding this fee.She also wanted to know what percentage the cities had made with regard to the increase of permit fees.She asked for the methodology used by other counties and a comparison with Lane County.

 

Dwyer said it was necessary to find the resources to provide the services for the people who live outside the cities.He suggested reviewing the general fund support for the planning department so they are not relying on fees to make their way.

 

Sorenson suggested getting information at the work session from the parks department on comparison between counties on how much the SDCís raised and the affordability.He wanted to know about the legal issues.

 

Weeldreyer noted that people had mentioned a countywide park district.She said it might be beneficial to examine this.She was also concerned about legalities.

 

Vorhes stated this was a legislative matter and the record could stay open.He suggested setting a deadline for submitting additional comments and testimony, prior to the work session.

 

Morrison suggested having the work session in April and that the record be closed a month before the work session.

 

MOTION: to keep the hearing record open for seven weeks from January 17, 2001 and that the agenda team set a work session within a three month period.

 

Sorenson MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Morrison adjourned the meeting at 7:50 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary