Review of complaints finds no justification
After a review of complaints against the city's longtime engineering firm, Madras City Administrator Mike Morgan issued a preliminary report to the Madras City Council Feb. 6.
The city contracts with Ace Consultants Inc., of Beaverton, for engineering services. Morgan found that principal engineer Wen Jou was handling plat reviews for the city's many subdivisions in a timely fashion.
"There is no evidence that Wen is slowing this process down," he said. "As a matter of fact, the opposite has been demonstrated when we look at the actual work log."
While conferring with neighboring cities, Morgan found that Bend, which is 11 times larger than Madras, currently has 19 plans for subdivision construction under review, compared to Madras, which has 15.
"To be equivalent, Bend would have to have 165," he commented.
Prineville has 15 under review, while Sisters doesn't have any subdivisions under review.
The city has added a couple staffers to help deal with the burgeoning load, including assistant city engineer Travis Wells, in the Public Works Department, who has been designated as the lead contact for developers.
Public Works Director Gus Burril explained that when a developer submits a completed subdivision application, by state statute, the City Planning Commission has 120 days to approve or deny it.
If the subdivision is approved, the developer and the developer's engineer create construction plans based upon the recommendations of the Planning Commission. At that stage, the developer has up to three years to submit construction plans to Wen Jou of Ace Consultants.
Once the plans are submitted, Jou reviews and returns the plans in an average of 31 days -- comparable to the turnaround time in other Central Oregon cities, Morgan said.
Wells has been working with Jou on the reviews. "Our goal is to get them to final (plat review)," said Burril. "It's not us against them."
About half of the plats are not complete when first submitted, Jou said in an earlier interview. Others, which Morgan displayed to the City Council, were covered with corrections -- including one which called Madras "Sisters."
"That thing's almost a color picture with all the highlights on there," observed Councilor Mick Goss. "Why wouldn't that be rejected?"
"This is typical of what you're seeing in almost every review plat," Morgan said.
Councilor Walt Chamberlain lamented the fact that Jou's professional performance was called into question at the Jan. 27 Madras City Council meeting. "I think Wen Jou has bent over backward to cooperate with these people," he said. "I'm sorry there's not some way for us to go back to the public and say Wen Jou's doing a good job."
The city did not accept public comment on the matter at the Feb. 27 meeting. Morgan said he will continue to look into the issue.