Featured Stories

OCDC official’s comments hint at appeal

Nonprofit corporation is still intending to construct a new Migrant Head Start
News Editor
   An official with the Oregon Child Development Coalition attending the City Council's Feb. 12 meeting expressed comments that hinted an appeal was in the works regarding the council's decision to deny OCDC a new facility in Bean Park.
   Rod Walker, OCDC senior facilities manager, characterized the council's ruling as "a dangerous decision to let stand."
   The City Council overturned an earlier decision by the Madras Planning Commission on Jan. 8. The commission had granted OCDC a conditional-use permit to construct a $1.6 million, 2.17-acre Head Start facility for children of migrant farmworkers by a 3-1 vote on Nov. 7.
   The council sided with 14 Jefferson County residents whose attorney, Dan Van Vactor, convinced five members that the proposed facility was a "day care," not a "school," and therefore was not permitted in the R1 single-family residential zone.
   The issue surfaced last Tuesday as the council approved a "findings of fact" document presented by the Bend-based attorney to accompany its formal ruling.
   Walker, who left his Wilsonville office earlier in the day to be on-hand to receive the findings of fact, said OCDC still needed a new building and was drafting plans to construct one.
   "As far as I can tell, based on the decision the council has made, we are shut out of Madras," Walker told the city council.
   Madras City Attorney Bob Lovlien told the council they could be facing "a very serious policy issue" because of their decision.
   Based on their interpretation of city zoning ordinances, day cares are not currently permitted in any zone except the industrial zone on a limited basis.
   Walker said OCDC officials just needed an indication as to where a new Migrant Head Start would be permitted so they eventually could vacate their current building on D Street. He suggested the council choose among the city's three residential zones to add day cares as outright permitted uses. Councilor Michael Goss also agreed the city needed to determine a location for day cares in Madras.
   However, Mayor Rick Allen said such a decision could put the city in a "pickle."
   "If we add `day care' into the ordinances they could just go right back and apply in the same zone," Allen said.
   As of today, OCDC has 15 days left to appeal the city's ruling to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
   In other business:
   - The council approved a recommendation to hire Troy Alderson as the city's superintendent for The Links at Madras golf course. The council also approved a motion authorizing an Interfund loan of $400,000 toward operation of the course and a motion to begin looking for an engineer for the nine-hole course, which the city obtained in a lawsuit last August.
   - The council approved a temporary municipal water service contract with the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation for 125 acre feet of Deschutes water rights. The city has renewed temporary water service contracts annually since 1994, when its original 40-year contract expired.