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Group appeals Migrant Head Start

Fourteen county residents appeal the Planning Commission's decision to City Council
News Editor
   An attorney representing 14 Jefferson County residents has filed an appeal to the Madras City Council arguing that the Planning Commission was in error when it granted a conditional use permit for a Migrant Head Start building to be constructed in Bean Park.
   Attorney Dan Van Vactor of Bend filed the 14-page document, which details 11 grounds for appeal. The City Council will listen to the appellants' claim in a de novo hearing during its regular Jan. 8 meeting. In a de novo hearing, the council must listen to testimony from the building's applicant and those in opposition from scratch as if the previous Planning Commission hearing never took place.
   The Oregon Child Development Coalition, a nonprofit corporation, has applied to build a $1.6 million, 2.17-acre facility on 4.8 acres of Bean Foundation land. It has been the subject of controversy since neighbors and some area farmers spoke out against the local program and its parent organization.
   Opponents have a long list of qualms with the program. They've questioned the need for such a large building with agriculture on the decline, accused the program's administrators of inflating the numbers of children eligible for services and called the federally funded program a waste of taxpayer money, plus a whole host of other claims.
   If built, the OCDC's new building would have the capacity to serve the needs of 100 children. Its current location, in a building on 108 S.W. D Street next to Texaco, can serve 50 children from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May through October -- its seasonal operating hours.
   The appeal attacks the Planning Commission's decision on 11-zoning related issues, steering clear of many of the issues brought up so far by the OCDC's critics. The case brief provides the following arguments:
   - The Planning Commission did not correctly apply a Madras ordinance pertaining to uses authorized in a single-family residential zone, specifically, whether the zone authorizes the creation of a child care center and/or preschool in the R-1 zone.
   - The proposed child care center and preschool is not a "school" as defined in Madras ordinances, and therefore is not an authorized use in the R-1 zone.
   - The use proposed is not a permitted use in the R-1 zone nor is it a use similar to surrounding uses.
   - The applicant misrepresented facts related to the use of the facility upon completion by the Jefferson County agricultural community. Specifically, the applicant did not justify the need for a large day-care facility.
   - The proposed site is part of a parent parcel that must be partitioned into a legal lot of record before the conditional use permit applicant can be accepted, approved, or denied.
   - The true applicant is the Oregon Child Development Coalition and there is no evidence of any relationship authorizing the named applicant, Hara Shick Architecture, to file on the application on OCDC's behalf.
   - The proposed use does not meet the conditional use criteria regarding impact to adjacent properties or whether the proposal will preserve assets of particular interest to the community.
   - The applicant failed to submit a traffic impact assessment to address traffic impact from the proposed use.
   - The proposed use leaves an unattended building for seven months of the year in violation of the R-1 zone.
   - The applicant failed to make a financial showing that the proposed project would be constructed.
   - The Planning Commission did not correctly apply the City of Madras zoning ordinance for a child-care center and preschool.
   The 14 appellants include: Chuck Anderson, Linda Anderson, Charles Campbell, Ed Chotard, Larry Easter, Marie Easter, Bob Forbes, Gary Harris, Camille Harris, Earnest Simpson, Patricia Taylor, Roger Tathwell, Eloise Thorton and Don Vandeweghe.
   Their attorney, Dan Van Vactor, did not return a message placed with his office Friday.
   After a 3 1/2-hour hearing, the Planning Commission approved the conditional use permit by a 3-1 vote on Nov. 7. The City Council's Jan. 8 meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., one hour earlier than its usual start time. Its decision can be appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals.