Falls City looks to make code more business friendly

FALLS CITY — The process of incorporating the expansion of Michael Harding Park into city property in Falls City revealed outdated and inefficient provisions in the municipal code, city officials found.

Mayor Terry Ungricht said he would like to use the necessary planning process to change the zoning on the park property, which is now in the city’s name, to make the code more development and business friendly.

He said the city was originally planning to spend about $1,500 to make the zoning change on the property, the city recently took possession from the Falls City Alliance.

“While we were doing that, we’ve come across a lot of things that make development here kind of tough,” Ungricht said. “We are reviewing the code. That hasn’t been done. A review should be done every year after the legislature meets to make sure that your land codes stay complaint with state law.”

He said the council should hold a work session to review suggested changes to see which ones it would like to modify.

“Right now, under our code, if you raise chickens and you sell the eggs, you are breaking our law. Now I don’t think that is the intent any of us want,” Ungricht said. “The way our residential (code) reads, you can’t grow a vegetable and take it to a Saturday market.”

He added lot partitions are unnecessarily cumbersome and expensive, too.

The larger review will cost $4,000, including the $1,500 slated for the zoning change.

“While we are having those public meetings, we are going to try to get as many changes in as possible,” he said. “We are not bringing in anything that is going to really change the way we do business. We’re hopefully making it easier for a developer to be able to develop a piece of property.”

In other business, the city:

• Will be meeting with officials from Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority about its application for grant funding to upgrade its sewer system. The application didn’t receive funding last year, but was deemed a strong application. Ungricht said its main weakness is that the system is considered “in compliance” by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

“I’m going to meet with DEQ because we don’t feel we are compliant now. We feel any time you’ve got raw sewage on a football field, you’re not compliant,” Ungricht said, referring to past sewage leaks of the drain field underneath the high school football field. “They’re saying you are compliant now because you don’t have that sewage. But we’ve had it three or four times in the past, and it could happen tomorrow.”

• Will soon refinance the loan on the Michael Harding Park expansion. Ungricht said the balance to be paid on the property is $55,622, and the new loan should be financed at 1 percent for a yearly payment of $2,500.

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