ONTARIO — Residents living near Dorian Drive showed up to the regularly scheduled work session of the Ontario City Council on June 3 to voice their opinions about the proposed widening of the street known to the council, taking turns speaking during the public comment portion.
One of the speakers who spoke on this topic was a resident living nearby who is already working with the city as it relates to her property.
Stacey Gehrman, whose property is at 2150 Antiquity Way, is the property that is, according to a prepared statement, being annexed into the city following the failure of the property’s septic system. She said in her statement that because of this, the city has required that the property be hooked up the city’s sewer system per Oregon state law.
Dan Cummings, Ontario Community Development director, explained later on in the meeting, that the reason that state law required the property be hooked up to city sewer is that without some kind of functioning sewer system, the property would be have to be condemned and deemed uninhabitable.
Gehrman, in her statement, said that she is “here to speak on behalf of the citizens who reside on Dorian Drive and whose property has frontage on that street.”
She said it was her understanding the residents who own frontage property are expected to pay for “the paving, sidewalks, curbs and gutters” for the proposed widening, which was made due to a short stretch of irrigation ditch that was suggested as being unsafe in a previous meeting.
Gehrman said that she is unaware of any kind of accidents on this street or any accidents involving the irrigation ditch and said that “[I]f anything it keeps what traffic there is from going any faster than they do.”
She also stated that one of the property owners utilizes this ditch “to irrigate and maintain his pasture” and that covering this ditch will keep him from “enjoying the use of his property.”
Gehrman said that the city proposed a limited improvement district, or LID, as a way to “help the residents pay for this required construction.”
She said that this suggestion “is simply not affordable” as the cost that was quoted to residents was “$500 per running foot.” This figure was updated during the meeting by Cummings who said the cost per running foot would actually be $555.
Gehrman said that the “huge cost” will affect all of those residents who must “pay for their frontage.”
According to her statement, Gehrman said that the estimated cost would run $50,000 for “100 feet of frontage.” She said how she feels this is not feasible as “some residents are on fixed income” and then noted how the previous year has been difficult and it “takes time” for businesses and individuals to recover.
Details from Cummings
The newspaper reached out to Cummings in a phone interview on Monday afternoon to find out more about this proposal.
“When you’re annexed into the city, all of our development codes kick in,” said Cummings.
He said that he heard from residents in the area and none were wanting to take part in a LID with the city.
Cummings said that proposing the LID to these residents was “a courtesy” as it presented an option to them to share the cost of the project.
Cummings said that some residents are retired and told him they don’t have a lot of money to spare for a project like this.
He said that it would require a “51% majority” of residents in favor of the proposal for an LID with city to move forward, another option is for residents to form a private LID. He also said, however, that it takes two-thirds of residents to “say no” in order to reject the proposal.
The total proposed cost of the project, according to Cummings during the meeting, is $2.28 million to be divided among the property owners.
Cummings said that the council had previously suggested looking into addressing the “half-streets” in the city and that Dorian Drive is one of these.
Councilor Ken Hart has brought attention to the city’s half-streets in past meetings and has spurred much discussion on how to remedy the situation.
Cummings said during the interview that he was currently preparing the staff report and this topic and would provide more information at the next meeting on June 15.
Addressed at next meeting
Mayor Riley Hill said that this discussion would resume at the next meeting on June 15 as the study session was informational only.