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Focusing on retail hours, overnight camping, business ordinance committee heads into home stretch

The committee is expected to forward its suggestions to the Sherwood City Council by Tuesday, Aug. 6


A special committee charged with looking at whether voters will be given a say on how Sherwood’s future business landscape may look like, is fine-tuning language regarding a ban on overnight camping at retail locations and legislating hours businesses can be open.

Taking off the table last week was future discussion on creating a sick leave ordinance.

On Monday, the committee generally agreed that businesses should remain closed between 1 and 5 a.m. They also are moving along language that would limit overnight camping except in designated campgrounds.

During the meeting, the seven-member committee asked Sherwood police Chief Jeff Groth for his opinion on 24-hour businesses. Groth said his only experience with a major retailer open all night was while he worked for the Tualatin Police Department and officers had to deal with a former Food 4 Less.

“That was a very busy location for us, a lot of shoplifting,” Groth told the committee.

However, Groth said his experience has been that most of the activity related to that store occurred during the daylight hours.

Groth said when he checked with Woodburn city officials regarding activities at their 24-hour Walmart super center, he discovered that 93 percent of the police activities there occurred during the daytime.

The business ordinance committee was named earlier in July by the Sherwood City Council in response by some to the announcement that Walmart will build a super center in the city, set to open in 2014. Some members have stressed that the committee is not targeting a specific business, such as Walmart, when they look at ordinance language to forward to the City Council for possible inclusion on a November ballot.

In response to a question by committee member Lawrence O’Keefe regarding Sherwood police’s most frequent daytime and nighttime calls, Groth said theft was the most demanded call for service during the day. He said he wasn’t exactly sure how that changes at night, but noted that domestic disturbances are also a top call both day and night.

Groth went on to say that 72 percent of police time is spent on self-initiated work by officers. The committee then asked Groth if officers would end up spending less time on self-initiated calls if a large all-night retailer located in Sherwood.

“I don’t know if it will have a significant impact,” said Groth. “I can’t predict that. There’s too many things at play.”

While he suspects that the self-initiated calls wouldn’t be affected, regarding incidents at an all-night retailer, he noted, “It’s kind of like ‘Field of Dreams,’ ‘build it and they will come.’”

Meanwhile, Rachel Schoening, a committee member and co-owner of Fat Milo’s Family Kitchen in Old Town, said the real question that everyone seemed to be asking was about “the elephant in the room” meaning Walmart. She asked if a business in Sherwood, like the 24-hour Shari’s restaurant, has an impact on businesses near it and what police do when a new business comes to town.

Groth said the department doesn’t have a lot of calls at Shari’s, and when Kohl’s opened, he met with their management team regarding issues related to security.

“We do that. That’s exactly what we’d do with Walmart,” he said.

Asked if he would need to hire more officers for the night shift if a Walmart came in, Groth responded abstractly, saying he probably would have to but that would be the same regardless of who the tenant was.

“I am not planning to hire because I don’t have the money to hire,” he said.

Groth has said during previous budget hearings that although he didn’t ask for more staff for the new budget cycle, he wants to in the future to get the city on par with neighboring departments.

Naomi Belov, a committee member who has said she’s opposed to Walmart locating in the city, asked the chief if he had talked to Walmart officials. Groth said that he had but did not reach a point where they talked about any specific safety issues.

Groth said he’s also talked with the developer of the Walmart site, which includes the entire Parkway Village at Sherwood site.

“I’m interested in that whole development being crime-free and safe,” he said.

Meanwhile, Meerta Meyer, a business ordinance committee member who’s also a real estate professional, said she received 19 emails, 18 of which opposed having 24-hour businesses in Sherwood. In addition to Shari’s, Sherwood has two other businesses open all night, Subway restaurant and 7-Eleven.

The committee hopes to finalize language regarding the potential ordinances when it meets again Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Sherwood City Hall.



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