BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'
December 10, 2003
Commissioners' Conference Room
Commissioner Peter Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Don Hampton and Anna Morrison present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
15. PUBLIC HEARINGS
a. PUBLIC HEARING AND FINAL ORDER 03-12-10-6/In the Matter of Legalizing a Portion of Hulbert Lake Road (County Road No. 160), Being Located Within Sections 11, 13 and 14, Township 15 South, Range 5 West of the Willamette Meridian and Adopting Findings of Fact (15-05-11, 13 and 14) (NBA & PM 10/15/03).
Bill Robinson, Land Management, explained the issue is to decide whether to legalize a portion of Hulbert Lake Road. He noted that Hulbert Road runs from Ferguson Road to the Benton County line, with access to 19 parcels. He noted the road was originally laid out through road proceedings (County Road No. 160) in 1855. He stated questions exist as to the formal establishment and the exact location of the road. He noted the Commissionerís Journals showed there was a first and second reading, but no formal acceptance of the road.
Robinson indicated that according to County records, the road appears to have been in existence since the late 1800ís and has been maintained by Lane County for more than 50 years. He said they are dealing with planned improvements including resurveying, alignment design, mapping and construction in conjunction with the Capital Improvement Program for the year 2005. He said the first phase of the project is to complete the legalization of the road to make it a road in accordance with ORS Chapter 368 so that road funds may be spent on it. He added pursuant to ORS Chapter 368.211, the County governing body may provide compensation to any person who has established a structure that encroaches into the road right-of-way, subject to the legalization proceedings. He said it appeared there existed fences and two structures within the proposed right-of- way.
Robinson stated that based upon the findings of fact in the packet, the legalization would have no predictable negative impact for present or future land use either in terms of allowable uses or actual development. He said the Board of Commissioners have the option to either continue the matter or allow time for notification to landowners concerning the compensation for fences and structures within the proposed right-of- way. He said the January 21, 2004 board meeting date would allow sufficient time for staff to contact landowners. He said the Board could approve the final order for legalization or not approve the final order. He said it is recommended that the Board of Commissioners approve Option 1. He said it would continue the matter of approval for legalization until the January 21, 2004 board date, in order to allow time to provide notification to landowners.
Kardell explained that legalization of the road is dealt with through omission or defect as doubt exists to the legal establishment or evidence of establishment of a public road. He said that staff has determined that doubt does exist because of omission or defect back in the 1850ís. He noted that this is a public hearing so anyone could testify on the legalization issue. He added as to the compensation issue, it would be more landowner specific.
Dwyer asked how much money they were going to spend to do the work.
Chickering noted the issues were costs with the legalization of the road and declaring the right of way of a certain width. He said there were fences within the prescribed 60 feet they were discussing. He said if the 60 feet were set, there would be an existing dwelling that would be one foot off of the line. He said there is also the issue of a future capital improvement program project. He said it is currently set for construction in 2005 and the limits of the project have been from Ferguson Road to the County line. He noted that the CIP project would go through the normal public input phases for all of their capital projects. He said the Board will adopt it and there will be a separate public process to decide what length of road gets improved and to what standard. He said the CIP shows $1.4 million to re-do 2.9 miles of road.
Commissioner Sorenson opened up the Public Hearing.
John Zoleninger, 1460 Santa Rosa, spoke on behalf of Josh Parker. He said that Josh Parker is a pioneer who owns a construction company and recently purchased property on Hulbert Lake. He noted what Lane County was attempting to do would bring the highway within five feet of his front porch. He added it would take out the well that is located there. He said his wife is going to have a baby. He said it wasnít fair. He didnít know why they wanted to devastate a country lane.
Maria Davis, 96473 Hulbert Lake, Junction City, asked the Board to look at the road to see if it is really needed. She noted there are only 10 houses and they didnít need a road for their homes. She wanted to keep the area peaceful. They just wanted to get the road fixed. She commented in the past 28 years nothing had been done to the roads. She was against the legalization of the road.
George Davis, 96473 Hulbert Lake, Junction City, lived at the same location for the past 28 years. He stated he spoke with all of his neighbors and nobody wanted a 60-foot right-of- way through the neighborhood, they want to keep it as it is. He noted it hadnít been maintained for several years. He commented that only two times in the past 28 years had the road been repaired. He added the road is 65% potholes and gravel and a new road would be a waste of time.
Liam Sherlock, 777 High St., stated he represented Leila Strom and Melba Durant. He said the law they are being asked to interpret is under ORS 368 and Chapter 206(1)(a)(A), dealing with how the Board has to go about determining the width of a road that had never been legalized. He said the statute states that the determination shall be made based upon the laws governing the width of the road at the time the road was originally established. He noted the road through Leila Stromís property wasnít established until the late 1930ís. He added that is consistent with the maps the staff referred to in its staff report. He explained the minimum road width at that time was 30 feet and that as a matter of law was the maximum the Board was able to legalize this road for. He said if the County deems to expand the right-of- way to 60 feet, the County would have to undergo a separate proceeding to condemn the additional 30 feet. He said their recommendation is to deny the new road.
Leilaís Strom, 96410 Hulbert Lake Road, stated she has lived on Hulbert Lake Road for 83 years. She said they didnít need a 60-foot road as it would be dangerous. She wanted the road to be left the way it is.
Melba Durant, 96061 Hulbert Lake Road, had petitions requesting the Board deny legalization. She noted that no one knew what was going on until last Saturday. She noted there are 11 houses on the street and everyone was against the widening of the road. She added the record shows the road was never built. She asked the Board to deny this.
Robert Emmons, Land Watch, 40093 Little Fall Creek Road, noted a couple of weeks ago Land Watch Lane County received a call about todayís hearing. He said widening the road would double the existing roadbed. He noted the neighbors were not made aware of the implication to the legalization of their properties. He commented after driving the road to the Benton County Line, he called Bill Robinson and Sonny Chickering. He learned that one of the neighbors that connect with Ferguson Road had gone before the Roads Advisory Committee seeking their recommendation for the repair of potholes. He didnít think there was any reason to invest $1.4 million to improve the street. He said it should remain a public street.
Craig Shelby, 33389 Bloomberg Road, Eugene, stated the Hulbert Lake area is an area of prime agriculture that is ill suited for such a road project. He asked the Board to reject the plan.
Nina Lovinger, 40093 Little Fall Creek Road, commented that widening the road would ruin the integrity of the oak trees. She noted that no accidents had ever occurred on Hulbert Lake Road and there was no reason to invest the money to improve the street. She said it should remain a country lane road.
Kathleen Weet, 96435 Hulbert Lake Road, stated she is one of ten affected property owners and one of six permanent homeowners who maintain a residence on the road. She said they have lived there for over 18 years. She noted the complete lane was zoned as exclusive farm use and no one can build or develop unless they meet the guidelines. She said there was an average of 30 vehicles daily using the road. She added that local traffic is 95% of the vehicles travel. She said if this were approved, their country lane would be widened and straightened, allowing for increased traffic and higher speeds. She added it would be used for a cut off or a through road between Highway 99 at Ferguson Road. She noted the surface of the road had deteriorated in areas. She indicated that five years ago she appeared before the Board asking that a 50% to 75% portion be repaired on the south end of the road. She noted the County did dump a load of gravel and they continue to drop more but nothing had been done to fix the condition. She commented that expanding the right-of- way 60 feet would take their fences, trees and landscaping and putting a road at their front door. She said the action wouldnít serve the public interest and they think nothing positive would be gained by it. She requested that the Board not approve the final order to legalize the road and to discontinue the proceedings.
Betty Margot, 24570 Schulz, Junction City spoke on behalf of her parents Bob and Jean Nixon who reside at 96313 Hulbert Lake Road. She stated they had not been given the opportunity to know any details on this project other than the road would be widened to a 60 foot right-of- way. She said it would change the road as well as some of its characteristics. She added the impacts to the property owners had not been stated. She said any increased traffic because of changing the rural impact of the road would impact the nature and the farmers who make a living on the road. She didnít support the action.
John Reerslev, 29388 Day Lane, Junction City, said he owns about 700 acres in the area. He thought that widening the road would be wasteful.
Bill Nielsen, 95962 Hulbert Lake Road, thought enough had been said.
Tanya Hovendon, 95635 Hulbert Lake Road, said if the road is widened and the road is legalized that it would put the road closer to her front door. She feared for her childrenís safety. She wanted the road fixed but not to be widened.
Michael Web, 95655 Hulbert Lake Road, stated he wasnít in favor of widening the road but was in favor of repairing it.
There being no one else signed up to speak, Commissioner Sorenson closed the Public Hearing.
Dwyer commented he wasnít sure if widening the road was the way to go if people were complaining. He asked why a road should be built if no one wants it. He said there would be negative impacts. He said they should spend part of the money and fix the potholes.
Morrison asked when the last time this came before the Board.
Chickering responded in 1994 they reconstructed a bridge that was near the Strom property and at that time it was the first time he was aware of the dispute about the right-of-way width. He said they had to replace the bridge because of its structural deficiencies. He said they proceeded with the capital project and they were prepared to go out to bid. He said they had to acquire right-of- way to accommodate the new bridge. He added they were unable to come to an agreement with local property owners because of the issue of the legalization of the road. He said it was his understanding that in the end they never did acquire any right-o- way for the bridge they just disagreed with the local property owners. He noted the issue of legalizing the road, where the road exists and how wide it is had never been resolved. He wanted to have that question resolved before they spend engineering time designing a project that might not fit the circumstance. He added they might not even have a legal right-of- way through there.
Morrison noted the Hulbert Road was not a legal documented road so it doesnít exist.
Kardell responded there is doubt as to the existence. He noted there were proceedings initiated to establish the road in 1855 and it was called County Road 160. He added that they have an order for County Road 161 from 1857 showing that road was constructed... He read a part of the law from 1859. He believed that under the law there is a legal road, but they donít have an order establishing it.
Morrison commented if there was unwillingness for people to resolve the issue then it should be determined to be a local access road.
Kardell said they could change the proceedings from a County road to a public road.
Chickering commented that the road is in bad shape and is difficult to maintain because the structural integrity of the road is destroyed. He added on the southern end of the road there is inadequate drainage. He noted the only way to have a permanent fix is to reconstruct the full depth of the road structure and to create adequate ditching or other drainage that would keep the water out of the structural base and that was the intent of the capital project.
Green said there was no long-term plan or discussion of development proceedings. He added if someone else had intimated it would be news to him. He asked what the benefit would be for legalization of the road.
Chickering responded there is a benefit to the capital improvement project if it moves forward and the length of the improvement would be up for discussion. He said his planning staff is thinking they should stay to the south of the bridge because that is where the initial testimony in 2002 was concerned with the pothole and patched up area. He added it was recommended by the Roads Advisory Committee and was approved by the Board as a project in general. He noted there are no assessments involved with a rural improvement project. He said the current road is 16 feet in width and he would propose a 20-foot road with paved surface. He added they have no plans of changing the road classification, it is currently considered a local County road and they have no intention of ever expanding it beyond two lanes. He had a concern because it was suggested that they change the status of the road from a county road to a public road that would make it a local access road. He noted that Lane County doesnít maintain local access roads except with expressed direction from the Board.
MOTION: to move Option 3.
Dwyer MOVED, Hampton SECONDED.
Dwyer didnít understand why they were fighting people and making them appeal where there is no public benefit
Sorenson commented that they couldnít find that there would be no impact on rural land use by establishing a 60-foot right of way through the area.
Chickering noted they werenít addressing if they were changing the rural character of the abutting property owners, it was an issue they would address during the CIP public hearing process.
Sorenson stated they have to find out what the appropriate right-of-way is for a road that has been in use for a long period of time. He didnít think they should approve the order as presented. He said before they embark on a project that costs $2 million of public money that they think about what the impacts would be on the surrounding area. He supported a motion to discontinue the proceedings.
Hampton said the County has to straighten out legal problems for liability and determining what Lane Countyís responsibility is for maintenance or improvement. He said they need to involve the people in the process so the direction they are headed is in the public interest and what the people want. He wanted to know the legal requirements and what the people want and blend the two.
Green did not support the motion because the Board wasnít willing to have a full process around this.
VOTE: 3-2 (Green, Morrison dissenting).
Dwyer stated now that Chickering knows how the Board stands, he said Chickering needs to fix the road.
16. COMMISSIONERS' BUSINESS
a. RECOGNITION/Cottage Grove Culinary Class.
The Culinary Class of Cottage Grove was recognized for their help at the annual AOC meeting. They were presented with awards and a check.
b. DISCUSSION/Evaluation of County Counsel.
Wilson commented that it had been a challenging year with the change in Commissioners. She enjoyed this year. She also enjoyed working with her staff and County Administration.
Green stated that he had worked with Wilson for nine years and she had always been accessible to him. He added she always gives the best legal advice available.
Dwyer commented that Wilsonís contract should be "at will".
Sorenson stated that Wilsonís office does a good job representing County government.
Van Vactor noted that Wilson received recognition from her peers at the Oregon County Counsel Association.
Wilson requested leaving her contract the same that it had been with the exception of removing the "for cause language". She said she would present that as a consent calendar item in January.
17. COMMISSIONERS' ANNOUNCEMENTS
Dwyer announced that on Monday morning the Board was giving out turkeys at Safeway.
Green announced that Sheriff Deputy Jay Standard would be receiving a Human Rights Award at the Serbu Center.
Morrison noted that last Friday there was an accident at Lingo Lane and Highway 99.
Hampton stated he attended the West Fir Bridge lighting last Saturday. He noted on Sunday the City of Oakridge has its tree lighting ceremony at 4:00 p.m. and on December 18, the City of Creswell is lighting Oregon Avenue.
Sorenson announced it was International Human Rights Day.
18. CORRESPONDENCE TO THE BOARD
19. OTHER BUSINESS
There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson recessed the meeting into Executive Session at 4:30 p.m.