Little Canyon Heights nears final sign-off by local leaders

Elk View Lane, also known as Elk View Drive, veers off of Meadowlark Lane at the crest of Little Canyon Heights subdivision overlooking Canyon City. The eight-lot subdivision adjoins the larger Canyon Mountain Heights subdivision behind Humbolt Elementary School. The Eagle/DAVID CARKHUFF

CANYON CITY - Ink should dry this month on the final signatures granting approval of Little Canyon Heights, an eight-lot, 6.7-acre subdivision overlooking Canyon City. Once a plat is signed and filed, developers can begin selling lots.

On Jan. 29, the Grant County Court members signed the subdivision plat, or legal development plan, for Little Canyon Heights. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, Jack Watson of Cornerstone Surveying of John Day will present the plat at the Canyon City City Council meeting for similar sign-off.

The county has assumed ownership of a key access road, Elk View Drive, at the request of subdivision owner Charlie Stinnett of Canyon City and other residents. This thoroughfare connects West Bench Road via Meadowlark Lane to Nugget Street, which parallels Humbolt Elementary School.

Nearly a year ago, at its Jan. 15, 2002, meeting, the Canyon City City Council signed the final plat for the larger, neighboring subdivision, Canyon Mountain Heights. Developer David Fields' subdivision includes 88 lots on 28.62 acres on the hill overlooking Humbolt Elementary School. The first application for Canyon Mountain Heights subdivision was filed May 15, 2000. Stinnett submitted an application for his adjacent, smaller subdivision on Sept. 27, 2001.

In other business by the Grant County Court:

ย• By a 3-0 vote, the County Court appointed Stephanie Parsons to the Grant County Fair Board. Fair manager Carolyn Stout said the departure of Claude Baker from the board created a vacancy. An initial round of recruitment did not yield any applicants. In a second round, Parsons of John Day, Linda Brown of John Day and Dawn Robins of Prairie City submitted their names. Stout urged the County Court to make an exception to the quarterly schedule for making appointments.

"We did have to disband two meetings because of no quorum," she said.

Parsons will serve through 2005. Other members of the fair board include George "Rusty" Clark, reappointed Jan. 2, 2002; term expires Dec. 31, 2004; Austene Hendrix, John Day, appointed Nov. 28, 2001; term expires Dec. 31, 2003; Sharon Livingston, Long Creek, reappointed Dec. 31, 2002; term expires Dec. 31, 2005; Charlene Morris, John Day, appointed Jan. 3, 2001; term expires Dec. 31, 2003; Carolyn Mullin, Prairie City, reappointed Jan. 2, 2002; term expires Dec. 31, 2004; and Larry Pierce, Mt. Vernon, reappointed Jan. 2, 2002; term expires Dec. 31, 2004.

ย• The County Court voted 3-0 to proceed with construction of a wall between the Grant County Criminal Justice Facility and the home of John and Pat Johnston. The motion by Boyd Britton was made contingent on the Johnstons signing off on the project.

"This one needs to be put to bed," Britton said of the nearly eight-year effort to build the wall.

Gyllenberg Construction of Baker City was named the contractor, with a plan from Pinnacle Architecture. Stretching 209 feet long and nearly 9 feet in height, the privacy barrier would consist of a pumice-like material with pylons, or pillars, positioned along its length. The privacy barrier would occupy the property line of the county and the Johnstons.

About a year ago, on Jan. 16, 2002, the County Court voted unanimously to award a bid of $17,993 for construction of the privacy barrier. Selected low bidder was Double C Construction of Prairie City. However, the low bid was disqualified, and the project went out to bid again. This time, low bid came in at $25,900.

During discussion a year ago, the history of the "Johnston fence" was explained by Grant County Judge Dennis Reynolds. He said before voters approved a bond measure to build the jail and justice facility south of the courthouse, the county needed a conditional use permit from the City of Canyon City. The city planning commission approved the permit. Due to a variety of concerns, the Johnstons appealed the city planning commission's approval of the permit, and the city council itself - which then included commissioner Scott Myers - voted by a split vote (with Myers in opposition) to overrule the appeal and grant the permit. However, the permit approval included conditions, and the first condition read: "A privacy barrier such as shrubbery or a fence shall be placed on the south side between the parking area and the Johnstons' that is adequate and agreeable to them."

According to the County Court, two critical errors occurred: The wording "adequate and agreeable to them (the Johnstons)" was too vague, opening up a protracted conflict about the actual scope of the project; and the County Court, the contracting body, did not review the permit. Jail manager Sgt. Steve McGuire at the time represented a Jail Study Committee, pursuing the justice facility, and signed the permit, Reynolds recalled.

In the end, the county found itself obligated to build a privacy barrier without specific guidelines and on the basis of "the appearance of authority" generated by the committee's sanction, Reynolds said.

The county budgeted $12,000 as part of the $2.78 million jail bond for the privacy barrier, but costs continued to rise. Today, a $34,361 jail construction bond fund will pay for the wall, according to Grant County Treasurer Kathy Smith.

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