Shannon Springer

Shannon Springer, Grant County planning director, addresses Grant County Court Nov. 18.

The city of John Day has asked Grant County to designate the roads within the city’s urban growth boundary public roads to provide appropriate access for potential landowners.

Shannon Springer, Grant County planning director, said most cities in the county have an urban growth boundary outside their city limits, which allows cities to expand.

Although the city takes care of planning decisions within their city limits, the county is responsible for land use decisions in the areas outside of the city limits but within the city's urban growth boundary — except for Prairie City, which is responsible for the land use decisions within its UGB, Springer said. Monument, Long Creek and Dayville's urban growth boundaries are identical to their city limits, she said.

Grant County has an urban growth management agreement with the city of John Day that states development within the city's UGB must comply with city development standards, including road design standards, Springer said. Changes could be needed as a result of a development request, which would be consistent with the management agreement, she said.

Springer said the county’s planning department, per agreements with the cities, notifies the respective city’s planning department of land-use applications within its UGB. The cities have 15 days to comment on proposals before the county approves them.

John Day’s standards, she said, have a provision that the county designates roads within their UGB as public roads. She said, within the UGB, there are roads that serve properties “that are not really anything but private easements.”

She said the city asked the county to designate these easements as public roads to comply with the city standards and the provision within its code.

Springer said complying with John Day’s code would be a “legitimate request.”

She said the city and the county have been inconsistent in abiding by their own rules.

Springer said the city’s point is that people need appropriate access to public roads when dividing property and creating new parcels for development.

Springer told the court there are no particular standards regarding private easements that go from a public to a private road within its codes.

“There are lots of things that are just provided access by easement with no particular surface, or drainage or any other kind of standards applying. I just have an easement to get to the property, which is probably short-sighted in retrospect,” Springer said.

She said there are a “handful” of roads that the county needs to fix, which would likely not meet standards.

She said portions of the county’s codes are not a good fit for a rural county. She said they were borrowed and adopted from Jackson County.

County Commissioner Sam Palmer said, given the booming housing market and likely more jobs to follow, now is the time to amend the codes.

Springer said code amendments are a lengthy process.

“It is going to be a bit of a process,” she said. “Not that we can’t do it. It’s just not going to be an overnight thing,”

Palmer said he did not want to make the process “too restrictive” and wanted to treat each situation on a “case-by-case” basis.

“I think writing these rules or revisiting them is totally appropriate,” he said.

However, he said he would like to see a mechanism that allows for exceptions.

Public health update

Kimberly Lindsay, the county’s public health administrator, and Dustin Wyllie, program manager of the Community Counseling Solutions Developmental Disability program, updated the various programs.

Wyllie said the DD program has 43 people enrolled in support services and 32 getting case management through CCS. He said people get case management through two entities, either CCS or Eastern Oregon Support Services.

Emergency management

The court approved and signed a cooperative emergency agreement with the Oregon Department of Transportation Department. Myers said Paul Gray, the county’s emergency manager, brought the document to the county. Myers told the court that this would allow the county and the state to share resources, responsibilities and personnel in emergencies.

Gray also sent the court an infrastructure contract from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to sign, assuring the county would track and document all COVID-19-related expenses for up to 75% in reimbursements, provided the county documents expenses correctly.

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