Hermiston herald. (Hermiston, Or.) 1994-current, April 26, 2017, Page A3, Image 3

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    WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, 2017
Festival street designs approved
Staff Writer
The Hermiston City
Council approved designs
for a downtown festival street
this week.
The first phase of the proj-
ect will transform the portion
of Northeast Second Street
between Main Street and
Gladys Avenue from “build-
ing to building,” according
to GreenWorks PC principal
architect Mike Faha.
“It will be quite a differ-
ent look and feel,” he told the
council, likening the finished
product to “a big plaza.”
Later phases will extend
the project past Gladys Ave-
nue to the Harkenrider Center,
which breaks ground today,
and add a plaza and fountain
to the parking lot across the
street from City Hall.
The biggest cost of the
first phase, which is expected
to come in at about $991,000,
will be raising the street to the
level of the sidewalk, creating
a more inviting pedestrian
experience. Instead of curbs,
street trees and short posts
called bollards will keep cars
from coming up onto the
sidewalk while still allowing
pedestrians to easily move
between them when the street
is blocked off for events.
Decorative concrete pav-
ers, ornamental lighting, met-
al benches, short stone walls
and other touches will create
a “sense of place,” Faha said.
Phase 1 will remove five
parking spots from the street,
but phase 2 will restore them
by restriping the parking lot
across from City Hall.
Adding a plaza will cost
about $277,000, adding a
25-foot wide interactive
fountain will cost an estimat-
ed $479,000 and extending
the project to the Harken-
rider Center will cost about
Money for the first phase
comes from a bond that will
be paid for using the revenue
from Hermiston’s urban re-
newal district. City planner
Clint Spencer said the citi-
zens’ group that helped devel-
op the festival street design
has expressed an interest in
spearheading a private fund-
raising campaign to help raise
money for the later phases.
Mayor David Drotzmann
said the city has recently had
some “significant conversa-
tions” about the future of the
old Carnegie Library on the
corner of Gladys Avenue and
Northeast Second Street, and
noted that extending the fes-
tival street across Gladys as
soon as possible would help
make the library more attrac-
The first phase is expect-
ed to be complete in spring
“I’m excited to see what
that looks like,” Drotzmann
Contact Jade McDowell
at jmcdowell@eastorego-
nian.com or 541-564-4536.
Traffic-related bills could increase
penalties for distracted driving
Staff Writer
Getting caught texting and
driving could hurt a lot more
if certain bills pass the Ore-
gon Legislature.
Thomas Creasing, Herm-
iston municipal judge, out-
lined new traffic-related laws
being considered by the Leg-
islature during a City Council
work session Monday.
He said both the Senate
and House are considering
upping the penalties for a
first-time offense to as much
as $2,000. Senate Bill 2,
as currently written, would
make texting and driving a
misdemeanor that could in-
clude jail time for second and
third offenses.
“It’s basically treating it as
another form of drunk driv-
ing,” Creasing said.
The bills in question
would also expand the pen-
alties beyond texting to cover
any operation of a “mobile
electronic device” while driv-
ing. That includes checking
Facebook on a tablet, input-
ting directions into a GPS,
taking pictures with a phone
and other hands-on use of
apps that are not currently il-
legal in Oregon but are still a
Creasing said he had his
doubts about whether Senate
Bill 2 would pass in its cur-
rent form, but he did believe
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that the definition of distract-
ed driving was going to be
expanded and fines would
be going up, even if it stays a
violation instead of a misde-
meanor. He said he has had
people appear before him on
their third offense for texting
and driving, so he can “un-
derstand Salem’s interest”
in making the consequences
much more serious.
House Bill 2460 would
act as a deterrent to failing
to stop for school buses that
are stopped with lights flash-
ing. The bill would permit
buses to include cameras that
would catch the license plate
number of vehicles that il-
legally pass while the lights
flash, and would permit law
enforcement to issue citations
based on that video evidence.
Senate Bill 556 would
make driving with a dog on
the driver’s lap an offense
punishable by a maximum
fine of $250.
A variety of bills up for
consideration this session
relate to driving while intox-
Proposed laws include
creating a ballot measure
that would amend the state
constitution to allow sobri-
ety checkpoints, allowing for
blood tests to see if a motor-
ist is impaired, expanding the
definition of driving while
intoxicated to include any
substance that impairs the
driver and requiring treat-
ment reports on individuals
convicted of driving while
House Bill 2599 would
remove the requirement for
wearing a helmet while oper-
ating a motorcycle for anyone
over the age of 21, while two
other bills would allow mo-
torcycles and mopeds to trav-
el on the shoulder of a high-
way or in the same lane as a
car to pass vehicles during a
traffic jam.
Senate Bill 34 would re-
quire cars to move over when
possible for any motor vehi-
cle with its hazard lights on,
not just emergency vehicles
parked on the side of the road.
Other bills address “left
lane hogs” by making re-
quiring vehicles to stay in the
right lane except while pass-
ing or making a left turn.
Contact Jade McDowell
at jmcdowell@eastorego-
nian.com or 541-564-4536.
Council setting sights on more housing
Staff Writer
The Hermiston City
Council took a step this
week toward its goal of
promoting housing de-
velopment in Hermiston.
The council added
multi-family dwellings
as a conditional use in
a commercial zone off
Highland Avenue and
also gave planning staff
the green light to begin
researching and prepar-
ing code amendments
that will make residential
development easier and
more profitable in Herm-
“Let’s get some more
houses built,” said Mayor
David Drotzmann.
The council held a
public hearing Monday
on creation of a neigh-
overlay zone that would
add multi-family dwell-
ings and mini-storage
as allowable uses on a
roughly 8-acre section of
land along Highland Av-
enue west of Southwest
11th Street.
No apartment build-
ings are currently in
the works for the emp-
ty lots, but city planner
Clint Spencer said when
a developer asked that
mini-storage be added
to the zone, the planning
commission felt it was a
good opportunity to also
add multi-family dwell-
ings as an allowable use
to the area.
“That property has
been vacant for a very
long time with commer-
cial zoning,” he said.
Steve Richards of
Eastern Oregon Develop-
ment LLC told the coun-
cil if mini-storage were
added to the allowable
uses in the zone, he plans
to build a storage facility
with 300 to 370 units on
a parcel just east of the
Gotta Stop Mini Mart.
Richards owns mini-stor-
age facilities in Pend-
leton and Stanfield and
said his Stanfield facility
has about 20 Hermiston
customers who can not
find room at a Hermiston
Richards said a study
by appraiser Doug Barak
storage facilities are at
about 95 percent capaci-
ty at any given time. He
also offered up a 100-sig-
nature petition from resi-
dents on the west side of
town supporting a mini
storage facility in his
proposed location.
“Of all of them I ap-
proached, two of them
declined to sign the peti-
tion,” he said.
Spencer reported that
at the planning commis-
sion’s hearing, a neigh-
bor expressed concern
about increased traffic
and loitering, but oth-
er neighbors said they
would appreciate any de-
velopment that reduced
the dust and weeds.
The council unani-
mously approved the
overlay, noting that since
storage facilities and
apartment buildings were
approved as conditional
uses, the city would still
have a large amount of
control over approving
proposed projects based
on their details.
Adding multi-family
dwellings to the zone was
an example of the type of
changes the planning de-
partment and commission
hope to continue to make
after the city council
named promoting hous-
ing development one of
their top priorities during
a January goal-setting
On Monday, the coun-
cil also approved a rec-
ommendation from the
planning commission to
“direct city staff to be-
gin research and prepa-
ration of residential code
amendments and initiate
changes to the zoning or-
dinance to promote resi-
dential development.”
Spencer said the plan-
ning commission recent-
ly had a “very produc-
tive, very open-ended”
round-table discussion
with area developers
about what their biggest
barriers are in keeping up
with Hermiston’s hous-
ing demand.
Developers at the
meeting named three
main barriers: High de-
mand has pushed build-
able land in Hermiston to
such a high price that it
becomes difficult to make
a profit on new homes, a
contractor shortage in
the area has pushed labor
costs up and infrastruc-
ture can also be cost pro-
Spencer said the plan-
ning commission has
noted the city has “very
ments for easements and
setbacks that, if reduced,
could help developers
turn more of a profit on
putting in new housing
developments. If set-
backs were changed from
seven feet to five feet, for
example, more houses
could be built in a sin-
gle development, giving
more of an incentive to
start building.
Troy White, who owns
property near the Herm-
iston Cinema, testified
the changes Spencer was
talking about would help
make development of
his land more attractive
because he could fit 20
homes there instead of 16.
Spencer also said the
wanted to start looking
on a case-by-case basis at
“infill” properties, which
are surrounded by resi-
dential development but
some particular problem
has held back develop-
ment of that single empty
lot or two. Adding more
overlays, like the council
approved earlier in the
night for the property off
Highland Avenue, could
be one tool for address-
ing that, Spencer said.
Contact Jade McDow-
ell at jmcdowell@eas-
toregonian.com or 541-
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