Residents protest property annexation

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
The Lebanon City Council approved the annexation of a 79.98-acre parcel of property at its March 9 meeting, but the subject drew opposition from residents during the public hearing.
G&F McAdams Farms, LLC, owner of the property located east of Stoltz Hill Road and south of Vaughan Lane, applied to annex it into city limits. Since they had met the legal criteria, the Planning Commission recommended approval.
Three people spoke in opposition, but their cited concerns gave council members an opportunity to clarify the legal process of annexation and, ultimately, development and city growth.
Deborah Kloss, who moved to Lebanon from Albany, worried that growth would stretch public services, such as fire and police departments, thin.
Also, she said, Stoltz Hill Road wasn’t equipped to handle current traffic, especially with construction delays. Limited road room exists for cars, much less pedestrians or bicyclists, and drivers often speed and pass each other.
“Our concern is that that is going to increase with a larger amount of families out there,” she said. “I don’t want to see it happen to Lebanon much like what’s happened to Salem and Portland. Less people equate less traffic, less services, less influx into our community.”
Kloss said she moved from Albany due to its population increase and differences of services and lifestyle. Buying two acres in Lebanon allowed her family to stretch their legs while also remaining close to the larger city.
“We moved to Lebanon because it was a humble little town that seemed very rural and livened with lots of possibilities,” Kloss said.
Mayor Paul Aziz explained that her concerns should be addressed during the development part of the process. The annexation process is to simply adopt a piece of property into city limits.
“The annexation has very specific criteria that has to be followed, and it has been followed,” Aziz said.
Councilor Jason Bolen added that when a person considers purchasing property, it’s important to understand a city’s urban growth boundary and its city limits.
“If you think you’re going to buy a piece of property or a lot for your house and that you’re never going to see development around you, unless you’re way out in the county, that may not be the case,” he said.
Keith Murphy urged the city to first develop its other properties, such as Cheadle Lake, before taking on another project.
“You guys are swallowing up a lot of property here,” he said.
Aziz explained that the city owned the Cheadle Lake property, but the one in question is owned by private citizens who want to annex it into the city.
Murphy ended the conversation by saying he considered multiplexes “a blight to Lebanon.”
Lindsay Pehrson expressed concerns about buildings and apartment complexes occupying farmland, providing fewer opportunities for citizens to own homes. As a result, she continued, people may have less pride in the city because there’s less ownership and value.
She asked if property owners or neighboring properties would lose any farm tax breaks or if farm animals would be limited by being annexed into the city. The council did not respond.
Pehrson speculated “chopped-up farmland” would later be developed.
Bolen pointed out her “Respect Liberty” sweatshirt and asked if she respected peoples’ personal liberties and freedoms.
“This is what’s happening tonight, is that you’re trying to infringe upon the liberty of a property owner to do what he legally is able to do with his property,” he said, “and the City is not in any place to stand in the way of an American citizen doing what they are legally entitled to do with their property.”
Should development later be proposed, the city would address issues related to it, holding people accountable to develop responsibly according to state and city law, he said. As to determining whether or not to annex the property, he continued, the council was held to limited criteria by which they can make a judgment.
City Attorney Tré Kennedy responded, “I would ask (the council) to consider all citizen comments that identify or argue those criteria, which they’re allowed to consider.”
Aziz added that when considering annexation, the Planning Commission based decisions on very minute details of the law, not on personal beliefs or whether undesirable multiplexes may be developed.
Also present were councilors Wayne Dykstra, Wayne Rieskamp, Michelle Steinhebel and Kim Ullfers. Gamael Nassar attended via Zoom
The council held an executive session following the public meeting to conduct deliberations with persons designated by the governing body to negotiate real property transactions, and to consider the employment of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent. The employment subject was postponed for two weeks.
In other business, the council:
♦ Heard annual reports from the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Lebanon Fire District;
♦ Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Lebanon Community School District effective July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. In exchange for $155,000 annually, the City will provide mowing, weeding and general aesthetic outdoor upkeep for Cascade, Green Acres, Hamilton Creek, Pioneer, Riverview, Seven Oak and Lebanon High schools, as well as district-owned property in Waterloo;
♦ Approved Resolution 2022-04 establishing a 2040 Vision Plan Update Ad-Hoc Committee. Last month, the City Council held a work session to update the 2040 Vision plan, and determined a committee should be formed to further evaluate the strategic plan and identify any modifications or additions;
♦ Approved Ordinance 2022-01 to adopt the 2021 Oregon Standard Specifications for Construction. Currently, the City has been using a 2008 version of standards to govern construction activities in the city. As industry standards change, the City’s specifications become outdated and require more approvals of Special Provisions per project;
♦ Approved Resolution 2022-03 adopting the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for 2022-2027. The CIP is a tool that helps the City identify, prioritize, arrange financing for, and allow time for application of projects. The document identifies targeted projects and potential funding for the next five years for transportation, water, wastewater, storm drainage, and facilities and parks.