Gearhart City Council has narrowly approved several text amendments to the city’s zoning code involving small wind energy systems, classifications of land-use decisions and other items.
At its meeting Aug. 6, City Council voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance that amends the city’s zoning ordinance.
The amendments, according to a proposed draft, would:
• Delete the satellite dish receiving antenna limitations to comply with the Federal Communications Commission;
• Add provisions to allow small wind energy systems;
• Add a clarification that nonconforming signs can be altered to change the message or exchange the display panels;
• Add procedures for public street and alley vacations;
• Add a statement classifying different types of land-use decisions;
• Add provisions to guide modifications to approved plans and conditions of approval.
Mayor Dianne Widdop and City Councilors Sue Lorain and Albert Carder voted in favor of the ordinance; Councilors Joy Sigler and Dan Jesse voted against the ordinance.
The Gearhart Planning Commission proposed the zoning code amendments. The council held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance in June.
Jesse said he voted against the ordinance because he believes the amendment dealing with small wind energy systems prevents wind energy systems due to the setback requirements, the height limit of 30 feet and other general standards. Creating obstacles for local individuals that would deter them from installing wind energy systems is “antithetical” to Gearhart’s comprehensive plan, which encourages alternative energy, Jesse said.
Even though he agreed with five parts of the ordinance, Jesse said he could not vote for it because of the provisions regarding wind energy. He previously advocated for the amendments to be voted on individually rather than comprehensively.
During another portion of the meeting, where “council concerns” are discussed, Lorain brought up a concern for Sigler, saying she had been asked questions about “violator T-shirts” at Sigler’s store, Pacific Crest Cottage.
Lorain was referring to shirts Sigler had for sale printed with the words “Gearhart Violator 2014.” A card next to a display shirt, which included the sizes and prices, stated, “So many rules, everyone violates,” “All in good fun” and “Celebrate freedom of speech while you can.”
Sigler responded that she has a business license and her store is zoned commercial.
“If I’m operating a business outside of a proper zone, if I don’t have a business license or if I’m providing goods and services that are not consistent with what’s outlined in Zone 1, then that’s your concern,” she told Lorain.
Sigler said that if Lorain chose to ask a question about the issue at the meeting “it falls under the category of censorship.”
“I cannot support that, and I’m not going to participate in any kind of discussion that’s a censorship issue,” Sigler said. “If you have a problem with any business people in Gearhart, with their products, with their services, you go directly to them and you ask those questions. This is not the forum to discuss what goods and services are sold or offered in Gearhart.”
Lorain answered that the difference is that not all business owners in Gearhart are elected city officials.
“To me, to publicly celebrate the violation of city ordinances is a curious activity for an elected city official,” she said.
Carder said he felt the dialogue between Lorain and Sigler “needs to be done outside the venues of a council meeting.”
In other news:
• City Attorney Peter Watts informed council that the New Approach Oregon initiative qualified to be on Oregon’s ballot in the November general election. A tax provision in the ballot measure, which seeks a new approach to marijuana, would prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting a tax on marijuana if it were legalized.
“Waiting until after Nov. 4, there would be no opportunity for a local tax,” Watts explained. The board may consider whether or not to pre-emptively craft an ordinance taxing marijuana if legalized. No action was taken at the meeting.
• The council unanimously agreed to collectively sign a letter to U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., to support the introduction of legislation that will restore the status of the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes as federally recognized.
• Gearhart resident Shannon Smith spoke to the council about Restore Oregon, an organization that promotes historic preservation to encourage jobs, livability and sustainability in communities. Smith presented the council with four dates in September when the nonprofit group would be available to participate in a public meeting for Gearhart to discuss historic preservation and a particular program called Revitalizing Main Street.
“They’re looking for, again, a community like ours, as well as the neighboring communities to really make this a great program,” she said.
• The board unanimously voted to approve an Oregon Liquor Control Commission application for El Trio Loco Mexican cuisine, formerly known as El Mariachi, in Gearhart to sell alcohol. The business is not new but is under new ownership.