County frames new sign code

Hood River county and city officials have negotiated a new commercial sign code for the Urban Growth Area that will protect the Texaco gasoline station near Exit 62.

On Monday, three representatives from the Hood River City Council visited the County Commission hearing to work out details for the new ordinance. Since the “urban fringe” is intended to eventually become annexed into the city, the municipality asked the county to comply with its planning request in those zones.

However, a debate arose this summer between county and city officials over whether a “freeway zone” should be established along County Club Road and West Cascade Avenue near the Interstate 84 interchange.

Mike Benedict, county planning director, said the key reason for that discussion initiated by the County Planning Commission was “fairness.” For example, he said the Texaco station at the western edge of the city derives the majority of its customer base from Interstate 84 traffic but is “virtually invisible” from the highway. Conversely, competing service stations at exits 63 and 64 have been allowed higher and larger signage.

During technical studies in 2000, the city decided that the larger advertisements at the central and eastern exits were warranted because the distance between them was too short for fuel/food/lodging signs and these businesses were screened by vegetation and low terrain.

But the city also acknowledged that the Texaco operated by Rachel and John Harvey warranted special consideration because it was hidden behind a rocky bluff. At the Sept. 16 county hearing, Mayor Paul Cummings and Councilors Linda Rouches and Paul Thompson agreed that the city needed to modify its sign code to provide protection for that business which has a 169-square foot sign that currently exceeds the allowable size under municipal standards.

The three city officials also gave the nod to some differences between its code and the county’s version. For example, the county will include provisions to “grandfather” existing signs so that business owners are not forced to pay expensive replacement costs. When those properties are annexed the city has also agreed to give business owners a grace period of seven years to meet the standards it adopted in 1992.

On a good parting note, the city agreed to start making revisions to its code to accommodate the Harveys’ business and the county agreed to present a draft version of its code for review and possible adoption on Oct. 21. Both parties believe the compromise will allow a “smooth transition” for commercial establishments when their properties are incorporated into the city limits at some point in the future. Unlike the city, the county will not charge a fee for new sign permits because these are considered part of the structure.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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