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Council declines sending ordinances to voters

However, the Sherwood City Council agrees to have city staff draft ordinances related to hazardous waste reporting and overnight camping in public parking lots


by: GRAMOR DEVELOPMENT - The city plans to draft two ordinances to address concerns involving hazardous waste and overnight camping. The ordinances are the result of a special ordinance committee that forwarded its recommendations to the Sherwood City Council.Although none of three proposed business ordinances will be sent to voters for approval, the Sherwood city staff is drafting ordinances to address the reporting of hazardous materials and banning public camping in the city.

While a third measure limiting the hours retail businesses could be open for more discussion, the Sherwood City Council gave no direction to staff, simply voting not to place it on a November ballot. The council discussed all three measures during a lengthy meeting Tuesday night.

Throughout July, a committee made up of residents and members of the business community examined potential business ordinances, meeting twice weekly for meetings lasting up to three hours or more.

The council, following an outcry by some regarding plans to build a Walmart in Sherwood off of Langer Farms Parkway, formed the committee. Throughout their discussions, business ordinance committee members emphasized they were focused on a broad array of business ordinances with no specific focus on Walmart.

In the end, the group forwarded to the council ordinances that would ban overnight camping in commercial parking lots, limit business hours (mandating that retail establishments be closed from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.) and require mandatory reporting of a hazardous substance release.

The council had the option of having the city draft ordinances related to the measures, sending them to Sherwood residents for approval or doing nothing with them. It was estimated that sending the issues to the ballot would have cost the city $5,000.

That set the stage for a debate on the merits of the ordinances as business groups, members of the public and the council all weighed in. The committee also discussed living wage issues and mandatory sick leave allowances for new businesses, issues that were not forwarded because of legal concerns and a lack of time to consider them.

During a general discussion of the ordinances at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, Councilor Matt Langer said he was all for sending the ordinances to voters despite the fact that data shows there’s not “even a slim chance of them passing.” Ultimately, he voted to not send any ordinance to voters.

Here’s a look at the measures and comments surrounding them:

Hazardous materials: Meerta Meyer, chairwoman of the special business ordinance committee, said the issue with this ordinance was to mitigate damages if there was a delay in a response by the Oregon Department of Environmental quality.

“This is something that was supported by staff,” said Meyer. “I feel like we as a city need to be proactive.”

Councilor Robin Folsom said she was interested in looking at whether there was a hole in coverage regarding hazardous waste handling and whether it would affect other jurisdictions.

Council President Linda Henderson said she would be interested in having city staff draft an ordinance and come back to the council after talking to agencies such as the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

Overnight camping: One of the main questions was whether the ordinance would include whether kids or Scouts could camp out in the city without being fined.

“It would not apply to a tent in a front of a yard on private property,” said Assistant City Manager Tom Pessemier.

Councilor Dave Grant said he didn’t like the fact that the issue seemed to be targeted at a specific business. “I still see this as a Walmart issue,” he said. “I know where this came from.”

Councilor Henderson agreed that the issue seemed to be related to Walmart but thought the issue could be addressed through a city ordinance. After hearing from Sherwood police Chief Jeff Groth who said he believed the ban on camping would be useful to police, Councilor Robyn Folsom said she would support an ordinance.

However, both Mayor Bill Middleton and Councilor Krisanna Clark said the measure should be referred directly to voters.

“Why did we form this committee if we had preconceived notions?” asked Middleton.

Clark emphasized that her push for the voters to decide was based on what was sounding like there wouldn’t be enough support among the council to move it forward.

Business hours; Councilor Bill Butterfield said as a business owner, he didn’t like government dictating the hours he should be open.

Councilor Langer said he didn’t believe the city had any business in regulating retail hours and Councilor Henderson said she hadn’t seen many issues relating to businesses being open 24 hours.

In the end, Clark made a motion to draft a ballot title and an explanatory statement on business hours in an effort to send it to voters in November. Supported by Clark, Middleton and Henderson, the motion failed after Butterfield, Folsom, Grant and Langer voted no.

Resident and business community comments

Neil Shannon, a community activist and member of the Sherwood Budget Committee, said he did not see an urgency to pass the ordinances or take them to the ballot at a cost of $5,000.

Amanda Dalton, representing the Northwest Grocery Association, said her organization had concerns about how the retail hours ordinance would affect deliveries to such Sherwood stores as Albertson’s and Safeway. The proposed ordinance would not have affected those making early-morning deliveries, committee members have said previously.

Several members of the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce Board expressed reservations about the ordinances including Eric Evans, who said the fewer regulations on businesses, the better. Evans said the chamber had concerns that the ordinances would hurt Sherwood’s future development, noting that one developer was “pausing” on a $30-million project to see what the city planned to do with the measures.

However, Anthony Bevel, a Sherwood resident, said everyone knew the reason the special committee was formed. “As far as I’m concerned they (the committee) didn’t go far enough,” he said. “To throw these proposals aside, I think you’d have a riot in Sherwood.”

Jennifer Harris, a Sherwood resident who coordinates the Sherwood Community Action Committee, said tossing the ordinances aside would be disrespectful. Relating to the camping ordinance, Harris said, “If we don’t have a problem with it now, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t deal with it now.”

Meanwhile, Walmart representatives weighed in on the meeting with a prepared statement Wednesday morning.

"We look forward to being part of the solution in Sherwood for local shoppers looking for affordable options for groceries and everyday items,” said Rachel Wall, a Walmart spokeswoman. “Local residents took a hard and reasoned look at the needs of their community and recognized that fairness is critical. We'll continue to build a strong relationship within our neighbors and look forward to welcoming them to our new store next year."

As far as whether the Sherwood Walmart would be open 24 hours a day like the Woodburn Walmart Superstore, Walmart officials have said that the issue won't be decided until closer to the store’s 2014 opening.

To read the ordinances forwarded by the committee, click hereand turn to page 250.

(This clarifies an earlier version of this story.)




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