Opinion

Council turns deaf ear to business owner

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Christmas television viewing is one of the luxuries of the holidays.

This year, without delay, I sat on the couch, coffee cup in hand, watching the

North Bend City Council meeting. The topic of discussion was the property on

North Bend Way owned by Street Sweeping Services, a company owned by

local resident Jim Sailors.

It seems that the city made a mistake back in 1992 when it issued a

building permit for a commercial property in an area zoned residential. I have to

admit, I don't fully understand the complete issue but intend to thoroughly review

it over the next few weeks. Regardless of who was at fault or what the

exact circumstances were, Sailors hired an attorney to respond to the city's

concerns over the zoning issue and changes in the property. The lawyer came

prepared with a multi-page handout to discuss the predicament.

I listened intently to what the attorney had to say while watching the

body language of a few of the councilmembers. Then I listened to the council's

discussion with initial remarks by Ed Carlson.

Carlson was quick to point out that the matter had been discussed

several times at the committee level and a decision had even been postponed to

allow Sailors to respond. But with new information in hand, he proposed to

move forward with an ordinance taking action against Street Sweeping Services.

I have to admit, when things get down to the wire I don't always like to

take the time to consider a new angle, but then again, I'm not a city

councilmember deciding the fate of a local business owner.

Councilmember Mark Solitto, although very apologetic in his

response, went along with Carlson, as did councilmember Fred Rappin. In

rebuttal, councilmembers Jim Gildersleeve and Elaine Webber made note of the

new evidence and went so far as to say why not delay one more time?

Well, with Rappin, Solitto and Carlson voting to take action

immediately, the council approved an ordinance to deal with Sailors' situation. In my

mind, it's a sad day when elected officials take action without all the

information necessary to make an informed decision and - in this case - without

considering the concerned response of Sailors' attorney.

Even if the councilmembers are working to achieve a satisfactory result

for the city, wouldn't it be smart to consider the evidence provided by the

Sailors' attorney? Hey, maybe they didn't respond in a timely fashion, but most

business owners I know in the Valley have so many things on their plate that

some things just fall through the cracks or take a little longer. The vote in itself

can be considered irresponsible and a slap in the face to local business owners.

But then again, maybe the three action-oriented votes are coming

from non-business owners. Come to think of it, the common sense approach of

a delay came from two local business owners, Gildersleeve and Webber.

It would have been prudent for the other councilmembers to heed the

advice of their constituents. After all, Sailors is represented by all of you!

Jim McKiernan

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