Friday, September 27, 2013

City committees face tough decisions

By Elizabeth Morgan

Orofino Fire and Building committees met Sept. 17, to discuss the city’s consideration to relocate their offices to the vacant Health and Welfare building.

The city has budgeted $25,000 this year for maintenance and repairs at the present site. Presently, City Hall is not in compliance with the ADA, nor does the amount budgeted for this year’s maintenance and needed repair, begin to address the fact that the police department, city offices and city chambers are all limited for space.

These were some of the reasons for the council to question whether or not it may be time to seek a larger and more updated facility.

City Administrator, Rick Laam suggested that more information be collected before making a decision. He would like to research the new building further, including utilities, parking and property taxes and compare those to what the city now pays.

The Planning and Zoning Committee also met Sept. 17, to discuss the zone change from (P) public to (C-2), sales and service district for the old Junior High School building.

The committee felt that the building’s change of ownership from public to private necessitated the zone change and felt the new owner could be better served under a C-2 zone. In doing so, a C-2 zone would make the zoning along Michigan Avenue more consistent.

The committee is considering changing the zone from P to C-2, and would like to hold a public hearing before the City Council at the next meeting, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. at Orofino City Hall.

Next on the agenda was the work session and discussion of annexation. There are two areas that the city is considering. Four lots along Hwy. 12, two on Hartford, and two on 105th Street are the focus of one area. It was explained that the last annexation of Riverside which took place in 1969, excluded parcels of five acres or larger. Over the years those parcels have been subdivided, bringing the boundaries to their present configuration. The committee wanted to clean up the lines in the areas mentioned.

The other area the city is considering annexing is Konkolville, and part of the problem is that half the mill lies within the city limits (the area that housed the former bar and steakhouse) the other half is county. “Who will pay what to who for water?” is another question residents would like to know.

Residents and business owners voiced a strong opposition to annexation, most felt that additional taxes owed to the city - (approximately .76 to .8 percent) would be a hardship financially, several to the extent of losing their home or business.

One question heard throughout the meeting was “what benefit of annexation would exist for county residents who are currently not within the city limits?” One person asked “if by being annexed, he would be finally able to run for City Council? A councilmember assured him he certainly could and welcomed him to join them.

The committee is still in session, though it is crucial that any party wanting to address the issues of annexation be present to voice those concerns in the next few council meetings. The public’s input and comments will be taken at those meetings. Building Official Todd Perry will provide the committee with a second draft of the areas involved.

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