Tuesday, September 5, 2006
By SUE RYAN
News staff writer
August 26, 2006
Cascade Locks residents who are discontent over the sale of city land to the Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation have begun a recall against two city council members.
Stan Bowyer began collecting signatures Aug. 2 after filing a prospective petition at city hall for the recall of councilors Rob Brostoff and Lee Kitchens.
He stated on the petitions identical reasons for each recall, that both councilors were “misrepresenting the people of Cascade Locks” by not listening to citizens that asked for low density on the McCoy property as well as the impact of a proposal by the housing corporation to develop the site.
“A lot of questions went unanswered and the council went ahead and voted anyway,” Bowyer said.
The vote, which approved the sale by 4 to 3, took place July 10 when the city approved the sale of close to two acres of land known as the McCoy property for $300,000 and kept the zoning at its current medium density status. The city had earlier considered changing the parcel’s zoning to high density. The action followed a lengthy public hearing, which included people speaking both for and against the proposal.
Council members Cindy Mitchell, Kerry Osbourn and Tiffany Pruit voted against the proposal while council members Arni Kononen, Lee Kitchens, Rob Brostoff and Mayor Ralph Hesgard voted for it.
The land abuts Toothrock Park, an undeveloped city park, and the side of Bowyer’s home among several others. CCHC has submitted a preliminary proposal that would build a mix of 30 units combining both one-story flats and two-story townhouses on the site.
The construction would require adding a loop road through the complex that would come in from Bailey Gatzerts Street and exit onto Belle Street directly in front of Bowyer’s home.
His contention against Kitchens and Brostoff was that the councilors only represented the development of the proposal and not citizens’ ideas or comments. Bowyer said initially he had planned on targeting Hesgard and Kononen as well but both of their terms of office end in December. Hesgard has since announced he is not running again for mayor while Kononen has filed for mayor and not city council.
Brostoff has also filed to run for mayor. He said he has read the recall statement and is perplexed by Bowyer’s intent. Brostoff said in no way does he have any self-interest in the issue of the McCoy property sale.
“I don’t own any property in town other than the home I live in,” he said. “And that has nothing to do with that (McCoy land).”
Brostoff called the statement “irresponsible” and said since last January when the land was put up for sale “nobody but nobody said anything” until May.
Bowyer said the reason citizens did not speak up until late in the process was due to the initial handout that was sent out. He pointed to a map printed on the back of an announcement about the initial public hearing before the planning commission.
“I had to draw in Belle Street, Bailey Gatzerts Street, and my home because they weren’t on there,” he said.
Bowyer said his initial reaction and many others who live in the area was to throw the announcement away because it appeared to have nothing to do with their homes.
“So we went to the planning commission meeting, the chair tabled it to go back before the council,” he said.
After he and others came to a May 22 city council meeting, Bowyer said the group from across a spectrum of Cascade Locks and not just his neighborhood formed an informal coalition. About 10 people began having neighborhood meetings to discuss their concerns.
One person they did not approach about the issues was Kitchens. She said no one has contacted her before or since the vote on the issue.
“I’m retired, home almost 24/7 and people know I’m home, they call me,” she said.
Kitchens said the statement about serving her own self-interest is not true.
“No one on city council had a vested interest in that property,” she said. “I’m disappointed they didn’t have the courtesy to come and talk to me.”
She said she voted for the proposal because of the money it would raise to help build a new fire hall for Cascade Locks. Kitchens said the stagnant state of the city’s infrastructure was the reason she became involved in city council in the first place.
“My feelings were hurt (by the recall),” she said. “I love this little town and want to get what it needs.”
The current fire hall was built in the mid-1950s and has structural issues. The city has planned to build a new fire hall on property across from the state transportation maintenance station along Forest Lane. Bowyer said he does not want his leading the recall to identify him as being against the fire hall.
“I’m not opposed to the fire hall or selling the property, but the project is not the right fit for the neighborhood,” he said.
Bowyer felt the council should have considered the low-density option because it could have been divided into individual lots, which would have made the city more money from taxpaying homes.
“If they are looking for more money, they went the wrong way,” he said.
He alluded to a false sense of pressure put upon the council to vote or lose the bid from CCHC. Bowyer felt councilors should have asked a lot more questions of the city including asking for studies to assess the impact as well as who would pay for it.
“They are being recalled because they rolled over and went with the proposal,” he said.
Bowyer has to collect 59 signatures for each petition and must file it on Sept. 22 in order for the recall to be on the Nov. 7 ballot.
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