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Hermiston council to discuss noise ordinance, eminent domain

The Hermiston city council meets Monday at 7 p.m. at city hall.
By Jade McDowell

Staff Writer

Published on August 10, 2018 3:50PM


The Hermiston City Council has a busy agenda for Monday, including a new noise ordinance and considering the use of eminent domain to acquire land for a new water tower.

If the council votes to suspend its normal rules for appointing a new councilor, it will also begin the meeting by swearing in Roy Barron as a new city councilor. Barron was elected to replace Clara Beas Fitzgerald when her term ends in January, but she resigned last month. The council will consider forgoing the usual open application and selection process to fill the remaining four months in light of Barron’s election.

The amended noise ordinance the city will consider Monday would change the way nuisances are measured. Instead of measuring decibel levels, the city would consider it a violation when it deemed a noise “so harsh, prolonged, unnatural, or unusual in time or place as to occasion unreasonable discomfort to any individuals within the residential area from which said noises are heard” or when the noise unreasonably disturbs the comfort or health of “reasonable individuals of ordinary sensitivity.”

Neighbors of the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center have made complaints about events at the center violating the noise ordinance over the past two years, and neighbor Chris Waine requested that the city consider adjusting its noise ordinance, asserting that the type of noise measurements the city used did not account for pounding bass from music being played at the center during weddings and other events. Neighbors who live in the county but are complaining about noise in city limits across the street have also been told that neither the county’s or city’s ordinance applies to their situation; the amendments suggested by staff would make it clear that noise generated inside the city would be considered regardless of whether the people affected were inside city limits.

On Monday the city will also consider using eminent domain to acquire 1.5 acres of privately owned land on the corner of Punkin Center and Northeast 10th Street. If a government entity and a landowner cannot come to an agreement for the landowner to sell, the government entity can declare a public necessity and purchase the land for fair market value over the objections of the landowner.

In this case, the city needs the land for a 1 million gallon water storage tank as part of a planned water project that would encourage new housing development by making it more cost-effective for developers to bring in utilities. According to a news release, the city only has enough water storage for 36 hours of water and the water tower is also needed to help the city be more prepared for a sustained power outage or other emergency.

“Anderson-Perry & Associates Engineering examined four alternative ways to address these needs, and determined that a site at the corner of NE 10th and Punkin Center Road was the only location with sufficient elevation, in close enough proximity to existing infrastructure, to viably address the issues,” the release states.

The “resolution of necessity” being considered Monday would allow the city to start the legal process of acquiring the land if the city cannot come to an agreement with the property owner.

Other items on Monday’s agenda include:

• A public hearing and vote on an ordinance that would regulate accessory dwellings such as guest houses, basement apartments and dwellings over garages. The ordinance would place regulations including an accessory dwelling permit, providing off-street parking and a separate entrance for the dwellings. It also accounts for a change in state law that would allow people to charge rent for such dwellings, which the city had previously banned.

• A proposal to create lacrosse fields at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center (see story on A1)

• A 6 p.m. work session to hear from state Senator Bill Hansell

• An executive session to discuss real property transactions



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