City annexes Harbor Vista Park, acquires Oceanwoods

© 2017-Siuslaw News

Controversial property accepted as part of Lane County payment

Dec. 6, 2017 — At the Dec. 4 meeting of the Florence City Council, city councilors voted 4 to 1 to join an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Lane County for the annexation of Harbor Vista Campground, with payment terms that include the purchase of the Oceanwoods Parcel.

Florence City Manager Erin Reynolds introduced the item.

“What brought us all here for this decision point is an IGA for the development and annexation of the Lane County Harbor Vista Park,” she said.

Harbor Vista Park, located at 87658 Harbor Vista Road off Rhododendron Drive, consists of approximately 12.06 acres of campground and day-use area.

In a September public meeting held at Siuslaw Public Library, Lane County Parks and Animal Services Manager Mike Russell said Lane County received a grant from Oregon State Parks to bring city sewer services to the Harbor Vista Campground.

The county’s goal was for the City of Florence to annex the site so the campground can get access to city services, mainly the sewage system. Florence will hook up 27 of the campground’s 44 sites, as well as a dump station, the caretaker house and the bathrooms and showers.

In addition to providing sanitary sewer service to the campground, the gravity collection system will be designed to allow future expansion to serve additional residential areas to the east, within the city’s urban growth boundary.

However, engineering costs for the project will total $540,000, and the county’s cash contribution had previously been set at only $200,000.

“The county was working with the city to find solutions on how to pay for this project,” Reynolds said. “They proposed a creative solution to pay both in cash and with an ‘in lieu of payment’ transfer of the Oceanwoods Parcel to the City of Florence.”

Oceanwoods Parcel, a 40-acre undeveloped county park within the City of Florence’s urban growth boundary, has a property value of between $200,000 and $240,000.

Florence Public Works Director Mike Miller said, “They would provide the property to the city, and the city would pay that $240,000 towards the project.”

Additional funds for the project would come from system development charges.

The council report contained some history on the Oceanwoods property, including being passed from state to county lands and the removal of a deed restriction that kept the land designated as a park.

“It was at this time that the county marketed the parcel for development with an asking price of $1 million,” the report read

Lane County Public Works Director Tim Elsea said it appraised so high in 2004 since it was “mistakenly” zoned as residential.

“The surrounding neighborhoods were very outspoken against the sale of the property for development purposes,” the report continued. “Upon hearing those concerns, the county has had public meetings discussing this property with their Park Committee and has made a policy decision to respect the wishes of the residents and pursue an option that keeps the property as a park and no longer intends to sell the property to a developer.”

Elsea said the county regards its past interactions with the residents as a broken trust, and has since held multiple public meetings to find out what, exactly, residents want for the Oceanwoods property. As such, the IGA contains wording to keep the deed restriction in place.

“The preferred language that staff is recommending is, ‘conveyance of the parcel from county to city will contain a restriction limiting the parcel’s uses to parks, open space, wildlife habitat, structures, roadways and facilities related to those uses, and any combination of these uses in perpetuity,’” the staff report stated.

“The county believes the deed restrictions are fully consistent with the conversations we’ve had with the residents — and without a sunset clause. What this means is that it will allow for future public uses, and does not obligate the city to do anything out there now,” Elsea said.

Each of the five city councilors got the chance to ask Elsea and Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich questions.

Both councilors Ron Preisler and Susy Lacer voiced support for the annexation and system development at Harbor Vista, but held reservations about Oceanwoods.

Preisler said he felt the city should retain the right to sell the land or develop it for other purposes in the future. He also said that City of Florence residents would pay for land that wouldn’t immediately benefit them.

“I respect that they have their needs and they want that, but they are asking our citizens to pay for that,” he said.

Since Oceanwoods and the surrounding neighborhoods are in the city’s urban growth boundary, the land could eventually be developed as a city park.

Councilor George Lyddon gave an analogy: “This would be like planting a fruit tree and not expecting any fruit for 10-15 years.”

Staff said some properties could choose to annex in the next five years, as they would gain access to city water and sewer service, as well as police services.

Lacer said she also hesitated to approve the project because of the Oceanwoods property.

“It comes with not just the deed restriction,” she said. “It comes with strings. … There is a lot of passion from the community up there. That property, quite frankly, is coming to the city with a bit of baggage.”

She said there will be a lot of work to develop it in any sort of way, even as an open-use park.

Bozievich advised thinking of the parcel as an “investment in the future.”

“You’re purchasing your future there. You’ve already made your stake on the area by putting your urban growth boundary there,” he said. “Yes, there’s baggage with the site. We made a horrible miss-start when we put forth that draft version of the Parks Master Plan saying we were going to sell it off, without any neighborhood consultation or anything. … This is an opportunity for the City of Florence to step in as the white knight, pick up this property and deal with it going forward as the new folks. The county’s baggage will stay with the county.”

Florence City Council voted to approve the IGA, with Preisler as the only opposed vote.

Bozievich said, “This is building on a partnership that has been building between the city and the county in recent years. We can add this partnership on to our ReVision Florence partnership, and our partnerships with the chamber. In all this collaboration and partnership, things are just moving ahead. This is one little piece that gets us further down the road.”

At the end of the evening, Lyddon spoke about some of the partnerships he has experienced as a city councilor.

“I have never had so much fun working with the staff. I liken them to racehorses: you turn them loose, let them run and off they go. Look at what we’ve accomplished,” he said.

At that point, he announced his intent to resign after the Dec. 18 city council meeting.

Lyddon said he and his wife have sold their home in Greentrees Village and plan to move close to family in Texas.

“We’ve seen what we can accomplish,” he said. “We’ve awakened the city, it’s in motion, and I’m going to miss the best ride of my life.”

Mayor Joe Henry said, “We are going to miss you. You’ve been a great member of the team. We’ve worked together to make a lot of things happen.”

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Clarification:

City of Florence would like to clarify that it is not annexing Harbor Vista until Lane County applies for  annexation. The title of the project is, "Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Lane County for Annexation and Development to Provide Sanitary Sewer Services to Harbor Vista Campground with payment terms that include Purchase of Oceanwoods Parcel."

"Harbor Vista needs to be incorporated into the City limits to receive City services, which is done through annexation. Harbor Vista has not been annexed yet," said Florence Project Manager Megan Messmer. "The County must apply for annexation for the process to start, which we anticipate they will be applying for soon. It will then follow a very prescribed process set by state law, which includes public noticing."


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