The Philomath Planning Commission cleared more hurdles during an April 1 work session in the ongoing endeavor to consider annexation criteria changes and understand how those updates would impact the process.
Now, the commissioners will put the issue before the public with an open house that has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, April 15, at City Hall.
"We'll have all of the new language that's been proposed by the planning commission for the annexation criteria up on boards where it's easy to see," City Manager Chris Workman said about the upcoming event. "We'll have some comment cards where people can provide comments, give feedback."
Most of the proposed changes revolve around the annexation sections in city code that address requirements for applications and review criteria. A new addition takes on the issue of any studies that are required at the time an application is filed, a topic that commissioners have spent a considerable amount of time discussing.
"I think the most important thing is the planning commissioners will be here and so they'll be listening ... and see what people like and what they don't like about the changes," Workman said about the open house.
The evening will be devoted to a "listening session" with no work session or formal meeting. The open house will also serve as a source of education on the annexation criteria issue, which can be difficult to understand because of legalese within the code language.
Workman said that at the event, there will be an effort to offer in-depth explanations of the proposed criteria changes.
"To get a good understanding of what the ramifications are and what it means and what are the consequences of the language I think are important," he said.
Commissioners at the April 1 meeting revisited several proposed changes that had been highlighted during discussions at a March 18 meeting. Among the many interesting points brought up was language clarification and definition on how applicants must illustrate how the annexation of property "must be of benefit to the city and the community of Philomath."
The annexation criteria talks evolved out of a recommendation last fall by Philomath City Attorney Jim Brewer, who told the city council that the city should “plan for the worst and hope for the best” when it comes to a state Court of Appeals decision on Senate Bill 1573, a measure that limited voter-approved annexations.
“I think the best advice for any city right now is to use this time to take a hard look at your annexation criteria and make sure that they really do what you want them to do,” Brewer said last fall. “We might take a hard look at what annexation agreements might look like and what kinds of things you might want to routinely say or include as a condition of annexation.”
In the legal challenge, Philomath and Corvallis claim that SB 1573 violates the home rule provisions of their charters. SB 1573 backers promoted the legislation as an effort to streamline the development process and help ease the housing supply crisis in the state.
Brewer indicated that a decision on the appeal would not expected for several months.
City Planner Pat Depa and Deputy City Attorney Amy Cook were on hand at the April 1 planning commission meeting to offer their views and suggestions.