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December 10, 1997
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS' REGULAR MEETING
Harris Hall Main Floor - 1:30 p.m.

Chair Cindy Weeldreyer presided with Steve Cornacchia (arrived at 2:00 p.m.), Ellie Dumdi, and Peter Sorenson present. Bobby Green Sr. excused. Tarra Withers, Recording Secretary.

14. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS

None.

15. PUBLIC HEARINGS

a. SECOND READING AND PUBLIC HEARING/Ordinance PA 1102/In the Matter of Amending the Rural Comprehensive Plan to Redesignate Land from "Agriculture" to "Rural" and Rezoning that Land from "E-40/Exclusive Farm Use" to "RR-5/Rural Residential 5", Adopting Exceptions to Statewide Planning Goals 3 and 4; and Adopting Savings and Severability Clauses (file PA 4118-96; Wiemers).

Weeldreyer explained that the nature and purpose of this hearing was that this decision was subject to plan amendment and rezoning criteria and that evidence and testimony must be directed toward the approval criteria. She said failure to raise an issue to enable a response may preclude an appeal to LUBA. Weeldreyer announced the opportunity for submission of information of appeal and that only persons who qualify as a party may appeal the Board’s decision to LUBA. Weeldreyer called for disclosure among Board members for any ex parte contacts.

Dumdi stated her husband had bought sheep from Mr. Wiemers in the past; however, this hearing had no bearing on the previous business transaction. Dumdi stated she had not talked with the applicant.

Sorenson stated he had known Mr. Johnson. Sorenson said he had spoken with Johnson on legal matters; however, this public hearing had never been discussed. Sorenson stated he had spoken with Robert Emmons, who had a letter submitted with the packet material; however, Sorenson said he had not spoken with Emmons about this issue. Sorenson stated he had received a phone call from Brooks Fahy. Sorenson said he informed Fahy that this issue was coming up for a hearing and he could not discuss the subject matter. Sorenson stated he was at home at the time of the call. Sorenson stated he knew Nina Lovinger; but had never spoken with her on this issue.

Weeldreyer stated Commissioner Green was in Albany attending a ribbon cutting for a new juvenile justice center; and Commissioner Cornacchia would be arriving late because he was attending a diversity signing ceremony sponsored by the City of Eugene.

Mike Copely, Public Works, gave a staff report and referred to a map showing the location of the property. Copely stated the staff did not recommend approval of the proposal (see material on file). Copely stated the parcel under consideration was 19.8 acres, an area with a couple of home sites. Copely explained that the applicant had proposed redesignating the property from agricultural to rural residential, invoking a Board policy interpretation which relates to impacts on dwellings in rural residential areas surrounding the property. Copely stated the applicant had presented substantial arguments in the form of legal briefs and findings arguing that the land is irrevocably committed to a non-farm use (see material on file). Copely said following the Planning Commission review on February 18, 1997, it was recommended that the Board not approve the proposal. Copely said the Planning Commission’s concerns were based on the quality of the farm land and the size of the property, and the arguments submitted by the applicant did not appear to be compelling. Copely stated the matter was referred to the LCDC (Land Conservation and Development) in October and no comments had been received by this agency.

Cornacchia arrived at 2:00 p.m. Cornacchia reminded the Board that he would have to leave the meeting at 3:20 p.m.

Cornacchia stated other than a site visit to the area, he had no ex parte contacts or conflicts of interests.

Weeldreyer opened the public hearing.

Weeldreyer stated there were 10 individuals who signed up for public comments and asked the Board if there was preference on limiting the time for comments.

The Board limited individual comments to 3-5 minutes.

Harry Taylor, P.O. Box 1420, Veneta, stated he was a land use consultant and was representing the applicant. Taylor provided the Board with an aerial photograph and a zoning map of the area under consideration (see material on file). Taylor stated this property was the only exclusive farm use zone property within a mile area. Taylor stated when he became involved in the case it became termed as the "doughnut hole case" because the property was virtually surrounded by rural residential developed lands. Taylor stated of the 19.8 acres, only 15 acres was usable, the rest was either developed or had areas that were not suitable for farm use.

Betty Wiemers, 39921 Church Road, Fall Creek, stated she would like the Board to approve their application to rezone the land. Wiemers stated the land was not bought with the intention to divide the land. Wiemers stated trees along the creek were never cut or destroyed. Wiemers stated many loose dogs in the area had killed their lambs and ewes. Wiemers said cars had destroyed a fence along Place Road. Wiemers stated as a farmer for over fifty years, the area and the way of farming had changed. Wiemers read a letter written by their neighbors. Wiemers said the owners supported the applicant (see packet material).

Jim Wiemers, 39921 Church Road, Fall Creek, explained from 1969 to 1994 he had had several heart attacks which required by-pass surgery and the implant of a defibulator. Wiemers stated in 1971 he had leased different areas of his property to feed sheep and to grow hay. Wiemers said over the years, neither one was profitable. Wiemers stated the main reason he decided not to expand the sheep operation was because dogs in the area were killing his sheep. Wiemers stated as a farmer for over 40 years, he was familiar with reasonable farm property; and he said this piece of land was so cut-off and impacted that a typical reasonable farmer would not want the land.

Allen (Al) Johnson, 767 Willamette #203, Eugene, referred to the issue raised by the staff report on policy three of the agriculture land policy (see material on file). Johnson presented an outline of the Wiemers’ land history (see material on file). Johnson encouraged the Board not to use Mr. Wiemers’ health factor, but instead use the statute which was the reasonable prudent farmer standard. Johnson stated the preponderance of the evidence supported the findings that a reasonable prudent farmer would not farm this property for the primary purpose of producing a profit in money either alone or in conjunction with other parcels.

Arnold Anheluk, 37990 Jasper-Lowell Road, Fall Creek, stated he farmed the area for 32 years and in 1974 leased an area from Mr. Wiemers to plant dill. Anheluk concurred with Mr. Wiemers and said the land he leased was not productive.

Brooks Fahy, P.O. Box 5129, Eugene, stated he owned the property at 39930 Place Road. Fahy stated he was against the proposed zoning change because he had moved from an area, Southern California, that had too much subdivision. Fahy stated Wiemers’ property could be used for farmland.

Responding to Cornacchia’s question, Faye stated he did not farm his land because it was primarily a wooded area.

Referring to Sorenson’s question, Faye stated he did not know many of his neighbors, but was familiar with several of their operations, including an organic farm, and said the land appeared suitable to grow other things than sheep.

Robert Emmons, 40093 Little Fall Creek, Fall Creek, stated he agreed with the recommendations made by the county staff and the Planning Commission not to approve the ordinance. Emmons stated several reasons why he did not support the redesignation of land (see material on file).

Nena Lovinger, 40093 Little Fall Creek, Fall Creek, encouraged the Board to maintain the current designation and zone status of PA 4118-96. Lovinger made reference to the Statewide Planning Goal 3 (see material on file).

Cornacchia gave his appreciation of Lovinger’s pleasant way in which she expressed her opinion without arrogance or personal attacks on individuals.

Responding to Sorenson’s question, Lovinger stated she did not have the knowledge of the land soil types on Wiemers’ property; however, she said the land was in a flood plain which indicates productive agriculture land. Lovinger said she could imagine a nut orchard or a berry crop on the Wiemers’ land.

Michael Balk, 260 West J Street, Springfield, stated he owned an acre and a half of property to the east of the property in question. Balk stated he did not live on the property, but the soil was good and trees were growing on the property. Balk stated his property, which he has owned for a dozen years, was undeveloped and zoned RR5. Balk said tax lot 1300, which was owned by the Wiemers and had a home on the lot, could house an employee that could assist with intense agriculture. Balk stated he would like the soil to be preserved and maintained.

Ronald J. Lofy, 39482 Place Road, Fall Creek, stated where he had moved the houses were too close together and he was afraid if the lot was subdivided, a domino effect could occur and homes would be built too close together.

Responding to Sorenson’s question of the soil type, Copely stated the soil, which was mainly Class 1 and Class 2, was indicated on the applicant’s original statement.

Weeldreyer provided an opportunity for additional comments by staff and applicant rebuttal.

Taylor responded to the testimony concerning agricultural operations in the surrounding area. Taylor stated there was a small organic farm nearby; but for the most part the area was a rural residential area. Taylor stated the typography of the land was deceiving. Referring to the comment of berry farms, Taylor expressed he did not know the full status of those farms; however, he stated there were no berry farms near the property. Taylor referred to the packet material on specific nuts and berry crops and noted the constraints of growing those specific crops.

Jim Wiemers stated the elevation of the property made it difficult to grow certain berry crops. Wiemers stated the cow calf operation, which had only 48 cows, should be considered a hobby operation. Referring to Baulk’s property, Wiemers stated Baulk’s property is mainly in Church Road and the bank of Fall Creek. Wiemers said as many houses as there were in the area, two more houses should not cause many environmental problems. Wiemers stated the property was not in a flood zone as stated by Lovinger.

Responding to Weeldreyer’s concern about Emmons’ comments for growing specific crops, Wiemers stated he could not comment on those crops; however, he expressed concern for developing a market, the maintenance required to keep the property, and the financial costs to pay the taxes.

Responding to Dumdi’s question, Wiemers stated the Waremans were the property owners to the west. Wiemers stated the Waremans were using their land for blueberries and horse pasture. Wiemers stated Mr. Waremans was a full-time licensed plumbing contractor.

Weeldreyer closed the public hearing.

Cornacchia stated this land use decision was difficult because of the conflicting policies. Cornacchia said when he read the materials he was prepared to vote against the application; however, when he went to view the site and noticed the high degree of non-resource development, it led him to change his vote. Cornacchia stated he had difficulty with individuals who personally attack others, when they themselves choose not to apply their resource land. Cornacchia questioned why the development pattern in that area would force agriculture use in an area where increasing dogs and cars appear to be prevalent. Cornacchia said in reviewing the paperwork, he could not find the case had been made that the area was impracticable; however, when looking at the whole map the argument becomes more viable.

Sorenson stated there was a lot of testimony about the physical condition of the applicant and that provided guidance to what was the motivation in making the change. Sorenson stated from materials presented he would support the Planning Commission’s recommendations.

Ellie concurred that the decision of this issue would be difficult. Ellie stated the fact that the land contained high grade soil was one factor. Ellie asked the applicant if there had been any attempt made to sell the entire property.

The Chair excused Cornacchia at 3:20 p.m..

Weeldreyer re-opened the public hearing.

Mr. Wiemers stated six years ago, the property was on the market for about two years.

Weeldreyer closed the public hearing.

Johnson requested to postpone deliberation so that Cornacchia could take part in the vote.

Weeldreyer asked the Board if they would like to postpone the hearing and not take action until January.

Dumdi stated that would be appropriate, and Commissioner Green could listen to the tapes and make a decision.

Weeldreyer concurred with Dumdi, and asked Steve Vorhes, Legal Counsel, for the proper procedure.

Vorhes stated the Board would request a date and time for the deliberation.

Weeldreyer stated the third reading and deliberation for this issue would be at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 14, 1998.

Sorenson left the meeting at 3:23 p.m..

16. OTHER BUSINESS

None.

 There being a lack of quorum, this meeting adjourned at 3:25 p.m.

 

Tarra Withers, Recording Secretary

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