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Fairview residents still concerned about council transparency

City, riverfront developers resolve zoning issue


While Wednesday night’s Fairview City Council meeting was far less dramatic than last week, conflicts continued to swirl over allegations of a lack of transparency in city government and the perception of a dysfunctional council.

Fairview resident Theresa Delaney Davis said she was alarmed and ashamed by the emails she read in public records obtained by Steve Kaufman. He had requested all councilors to hand over all city emails for the month of June. She said councilors had made personal attacks on city employees and each other via email.

“I’m embarrassed for council and my city,” Delaney Davis said.

Former councilor Barbara Jones said she was appalled at the actions of the council last week.

“Input from citizens to their governing body is a right for every citizen, and no matter what we have to say, we should be heard in a respectful manner, thanked for bringing our opinions forward, and those opinions should be at the top of your list when you are making decisions,” Jones said.

Mayor Mike Weatherby said Kaufman’s records request for emails will be available for citizens. Former councilor Brian Cooper has filed a second records request against Councilor Dan Kreamier.

Development

On the topic of actual business, attorney Matt Wand of Troutdale and businessman Dean Hurford made a specific request to the council regarding Columbia riverfront property and the failed USS Ranger site that local developers, such as Columbia Edgewater, have been wanting to develop for more than a year.

However, developers haven’t been able to move forward because of confusion over zoning laws for the property.

Wand said the council must first create a “zone” for the property before developers can apply to “re-zone” the area or designate it for commercial development. The city zoning ordinance describes the allowable uses for development, Wand said.

The chunk of property bordering the Columbia River is the only piece of land in Fairview that has not been zoned for a designated use, according to a map in the city’s comprehensive plan, passed in June 2004.

At the meeting, Wand asked the council to consider drafting a “riverfront-mixed use ordinance,” for the property on the next meeting agenda, which he said is the first step in making it available for development.

Columbia Edgewater went to the city in June of 2012 with plans to develop the riverfront property. The city said developers needed to pay a fee and file a “re-zone” form, leading to Columbia Edgewater’s application to re-zone the area for riverfront mixed-use.

The city denied the application because the developers failed to meet certain criteria.

What the city didn’t know was developers could not comply with certain requirements because the zone did not legally exist, Wand said. Fifteen months later, with a little legal expertise, the council has realized the problem. Neither the council nor the developers could really understand why it took so long to figure out.

Councilor Tami Arnold apologized to Wand and Hurford.

“It’s troublesome it’s been over a year that we’ve sat on this,” she said. “You have my best effort and I imagine other counselors, and citizens, to move things like this forward in a more timely manner.” The city plans to discuss the ordinance next week.




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