Over 100 members of the Port Orford community have voiced opposition to a proposed 160-foot tower at 8th Street and Highway 101. This proposal remains active in the City of Port Orford’s planning process. As the proposal works its way through this planning process, the community must voice its strong opposition to ensure that the proposal does not succeed. If you agree, please sign this petition. Results will be made public, and shared with City of Port Orford elected officials and staff.
SIGN THE PETITION AT THE LINK BELOW TO SAY: I oppose the construction of a tower at 8th Street and Highway 101 in Port Orford!!!
As the story goes, after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall when a woman asked him, “Well, Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”
Franklin’s response was both witty and ominous: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
On the streets of Port Orford we’re pondering a similar dilemma: Is it our town? Can we keep it?
Those were the questions that resonated beneath the public comments at the December city council meeting. A meeting whose agenda did not include discussing the proposed tower on 8th Street and Hwy. 101, in spite of multiple requests by citizens. A meeting where the mayor’s words contradicted the city administrator’s. Where the city’s lawyer tried repeatedly to stuff the jack back into the box, and where yet again we learn that a major decision is in the hands of a single person.
If you hung on to the end of the meeting, you finally got to hear a small handful of residents plead (yes, that was the word used) with the council. Said Tim Palmer, “If you can’t right here and now take action to require a public process [on the tower] . . . at least please take action to require our city administrator and our planner to not approve this project until it comes back to council to consider this question of allowing your citizens some input on the biggest project ever to affect us in this town.”
The tower part of the developer’s proposal “has enormous consequences,” Palmer added. “It would change the appearance and character of our town indelibly forever, like nothing else has ever done.” The loss of privacy is a concern, with “tourists 160 feet up in the air watching everything down below. It would be a major drop in the quality of life.” Not to mention problems with wind, an earthquake or tsunami, and noise, plus “this is going to kill birds like crazy.”
Early in the meeting, Mayor Pat Cox explained why the issue was not on the agenda. “It’s not an action item. . . . We can’t talk about it yet.” But, he said, “I’m 99 percent sure that it will be going to planning for review, passed on by the planning director.”
The city attorney, Shala Kudlac, quickly stepped in. “You don’t really want to have ex parte contact with community members. It’s supposed to land on your desk fresh. You really want to not engage in the subject until it’s properly before you.”
Does that mean the planning commission will open a public process about the proposal? City Administrator Jessica Ginsburg said, “Not necessarily, no.” Kudlac clarified that the planning director, “will make the decision whether to send it up. Based on the type of application it is.”
This was slightly encouraging. The initial word from the city had been that if the tower proposal literally “checked all the boxes” on the application for plan clearance, then it had to be approved with no further review.
Was the city attorney right to caution the council not to talk about the proposal? It isn’t currently on their docket for a decision, so ex parte rules shouldn’t apply. There’s currently no legal proceeding under way that would require notice to an opposing party – in this case, the developer. The advice seemed overly risk-averse.
The council did eventually agree to put the tower proposal on the agenda for January. And there was another promising sign: There was consensus to review the codes to give citizens more input on what is built in Port Orford. To “change the playbook.” That’s down the road a way, however. For now we wait. And enjoy the presently clear sky.
The many letters sent by citizens asking for the Port Orford City Council to discuss the proposed tower on 8th Street at their meeting on Thursday were not heeded. The city administrator did not even pass the letters on to councilors (according to personal communications we have from them). Presumably, the mayor saw the letters, or at least was aware of the requests, but he did not agree to put the item on the agenda. What the city administrator did was include the page reproduced below in the council packet. (Click on “tower-communique” to see it.)
How likely is it that the tower developer will abandon his colossus? Why did he propose it in the first place? Will he listen to public opinion, communicated on Facebook and in many private meetings with individuals?
Nobody thinks the tower is a good or workable idea – and many are openly derisive about it. And what the heck is this “raffle” idea all about? It is no substitute for a public process! Let the proposal be withdrawn and a new one submitted under the new height limits! It’s only reasonable!
Equally important is the fact that citizen communications, submitted by the rules and through the proper channel, were ignored. Trust has been broken. Can a decision be made on the tower by just one person, the city administrator, based on her reading of the local ordinances? Does she consult with anyone? Do we really have no recourse on this, even when it’s so outrageous? The system is broken.
The council needs to hear from YOU before or during the meeting on Thursday. Though the topic cannot be addressed at the beginning of the meeting, because it isn’t on the agenda, there will be an opportunity under Citizen Considerations at the very end.
Just after the Port Orford City Council approved the second of two ordinances this year defining building heights, we learn of an application to build a colossal tower on the highway in our town. The second building heights ordinance goes into effect on December 16, 2021. The tower project was submitted before the council took action, and was intended to evade the new restrictions. Here is what it would look like, as well as the application detail. As of this writing on December 9, the city has not yet given clearance for the project to move forward. The next step would be applying for a building permit from Curry County. No public hearing is anticipated either in Port Orford or Gold Beach. Community members are concerned and, frankly, outraged that such a monstrosity could be contemplated here — much less actually constructed. Below is the application, in full. Click on 8th St Community Corner to bring up a PDF. Above and below are privately produced to-scale images based on the measurements of the (misleading) application sketch.
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