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Council turns deaf ear to business owner
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!