Hood River City Councilors discussed staff ideas in an attempt to move forward with zoning code amendments for short-term rentals, but once again there was no movement toward the four votes that would be needed to pass any changes. The concept from staff included allowing currently functioning STR’s in residential zones to continue with proper permitting until there is an ownership change, and as properties change hands it would move toward a cap on STR’s of 100. The Council, down two members for the issue, has been split between a municipal planning commission proposal to require short-term rental owners in residential zones to be primary residents, and a cap and density distribution plan. The subject will return to the Council on July 25.
The Dalles City Council reached decisions on a time, place, and manner ordinance for recreational marijuana businesses. Among the decisions: opting for a 500-foot buffer around schools and parks from retail marijuana outlets, and allowing processing and wholesaling in commercial and light industrial zones in addition to industrial zones recommended by the municipal planning commission. Mayor Steve Lawrence felt the ordinance was covering the ground the Council was looking for. A full ordinance will come to the Council next month. In addition, the Council voted to send a three percent tax on recreational marijuana purchases to the November ballot.
The City of Hood River, Port of Hood River, and the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District are continuing moving toward a model for a dog park on property near the municipal wastewater treatment plant. City Manager Steve Wheeler gave an update on progress to City Councilors, saying the various agencies are reaching agreements in principal to move forward. He expects an arrangement similar to the Hood River Skate Park. Under that kind of agreement, the City would maintain ownership of the property, while the Parks and Recreation District would operate the dog park.
The Dalles City Council honored retiring police chief Jay Waterbury during its meeting on Monday night. Mayor Steve Lawrence presented Waterbury with a memory box featuring all of the shields he wore during his tenure with The Dalles Police Department. Lawrence noted in Waterbury’s 41 years with The Dalles Police, 20 as chief, Waterbury worked under 13 mayors, six City Managers, and 52 councilors, adding Waterbury served his community well. Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police President Jeff Spalding also honored Waterbury with an award, pointing out his work in mentoring leaders. Waterbury and his wife Vicki also received awards from the Oregon Department of Public Safety. A large crowd of community members were in attendance for the ceremony for Waterbury.
The City of Hood River, Hood River County, and the Oregon Department of Transportation are about to enter into an intergovernmental agreement to prepare a Westside Area Concept Plan. That plan would focus on land use and public infrastructure issues to facilitate development of workforce and affordable housing. City Manager Steve Wheeler says the Westside area is a key component to the housing strategy. The City will provide matching funds of just over $23,000 to augment an ODOT grant for the study. A Statement of Work for the study is being reviewed by the Oregon Department of Justice for state approval.
Crews contained a fire west of Dufur late Saturday afternoon at 31 acres. The Oregon Department of Forestry says the Jewel Road Fire was reported Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in grass and brush on ODF protected lands. The fire burned on rolling hills through grass and brush beneath an overstory of pine and oak trees, and was contained late Saturday night. The cause of the fire is under investigation. A single-engine air tanker with the Washington Department of Natural Resources flew in from Dallesport and dropped one load of retardant and three loads of water onto the fire. ODF responded with four engines and a bulldozer, and four additional engines were supplied by the U.S. Forest Service and a rural structural protection district.
Drivers will soon notice new speed limit signs on Washington Highway 14 west of White Salmon. On Wednesday the Washington State Department of Transportation will reduce the speed limit from 50 miles per hour to 40 miles per hour between Cook-Underwood Road and Dock Grade Road. The transportation department says the lowered speed limit will help improve safety for all users of the highway.
A pattern of flat revenues is becoming an increasing area of concern for Klickitat County officials. The reasons for the lack of revenue growth range from a flattening of regional landfill revenues to property taxes. Commissioner Jim Sizemore says the revenues have been flat for four to five years, while expenses continue to rise. Sizemore adds the situation increases the need to attract new business to the region, particularly in the eastern part of Klickitat County.
Helicopter activity will resume in the upper Catherine and Major Creek areas as part of a project to restore historic forest types in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Helicopter activity is expected to resume after July 4, and will continue in the area throughout the summer. The U.S. Forest Service is conducting the project as part of a larger landscape restoration strategy to improve forest health by creating a more open forest type, comprised of fewer, larger, more widely spaced trees that will resemble historic landscapes once found through the Gorge. The project’s benefits include an immediate reduction in the risk of wildfire, and an increase in native biodiversity over time. Residents and visitors to the area should expect to hear helicopter noise during daylight hours and may see helicopters carrying logs and other cargo. Access into the specific areas where operations are taking place may be limited.
The parents of a member of Hood River Valley High School’s state champion track and field team who was pierced in the eye by a javelin at a meet at Jesuit High School on Friday say their son’s vision is blurry but he can see out of the eye. Barry and Carrie Kennedy said in a statement released Sunday through Oregon Health and Science University in Portland that 18-year-old Parker Kennedy is in fair condition. The parents say his neurological status is good and he’s talking, moving and showing signs of progress. The Oregonian reported that Parker Kennedy was injured Friday night at a USA Track and Field junior meet where he was competing in the decathlon after he tripped while attempting to pick up a javelin during warmups, stubbed his toe, and fell face first into the back end of the javelin. A Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said the javelin was removed by someone before firefighters arrived. Kennedy recently graduated from Hood River Valley High School and won the 5A pole vault at the state championship in the spring. He will be attending the University of Washington and competing in the pole vault for the Huskies.