If neighbors on a local gravel road want their street paved, their proposal will be discussed in a public hearing where everyone can discuss it and the Cannon Beach City Council will make a final decision.
That provision is contained in revised street standards guidelines considered by the council at its work session earlier this month.
While the guidelines say that existing “unpaved” roads are to remain gravel, the City Council will have the right to determine when conditions, such as a slope or other problems, require that a road be paved. Neighborhoods, however, can request that their streets be paved.
Before a neighborhood’s graveled street can be paved, property owners must submit a request to the city’s Public Works director showing that at least two-thirds of the owners support the project and are willing to pay for it. The city will contribute 20 percent of the asphalt paving, and property owners will pay 80 percent. Property owners could opt out of paying, but the cost would have to be picked up by the other property owners. Even one property owner could agree to pay for the entire project, said Public Works Director Dan Grassick.
Property owners who fail to pay their share within 30 days after the project is completed will have a lien filed against their property, according to the street standards guidelines.
A neighborhood meeting to discuss the project, including street design and cost, would be conducted. Following the neighborhood meeting, a public hearing before the City Council would occur.
However, the councilors debated the need for a public hearing.
“I don’t like the idea that a neighborhood can come up with an agreement and in a public hearing people (outside the neighborhood) can say they don’t want it paved,” said Councilor Mike Benefield, who added that those who don’t live in the neighborhood shouldn’t have that much control.
But Mayor Sam Steidel noted that second-homeowners who might live in larger cities where all the streets are paved and who think their neighborhoods should also be paved might not understand that it is within Cannon Beach’s character to have gravel roads.
“I want to make sure the public has the right to say that they don’t want the streets to be paved,” Steidel said.
Councilor George Vetter also expressed concern that the public — and the City Council — might have too much say over what a local neighborhood has agreed it wants and is willing to pay for.
“I fear we’re making an adversarial situation for ourselves,” Vetter said.
“It makes me a little uncomfortable telling them they can get their street paved, but maybe not,” he added.
But Councilor Wendy Higgins noted that “people want to be heard.”
“Yeah, sometimes it gets emotional, but that’s our job,” she said.
City Manager Brant Kucera agreed. “If you’re asking people to pay 20 percent of the cost, they have a right to be heard,” he said.
But, he added, “People across town aren’t going to be affected. I would hope that the government body takes into account that 98 percent of the neighborhood wants it.”
Councilor Melissa Cadwallader noted that, if the City Council is required to make the final decision, then “We have to hear all sides.”
Cadwallader also asked Grassick whether the vegetation in the neighborhood would be taken into account when the street design is drawn. Grassick said the paving would generally follow the existing right of way. Local roads that wind around trees now will remain that way, even if they are paved, he said.
‘I fear we’re making an adversarial situation for ourselves.’
— George Vetter
Cannon Beach city councilor