Most city councils around Oregon truly welcome citizen opinion on how things are going in their communities. Usually it’s about taxes, quality of service (or lack of it), something somebody said at an earlier meeting – those sorts of things.
Then there’s Jerry Warner.
Mr. Warner is a frequent, if not chronic, visitor to Lincoln City City Hall, gathering information from one city department after another, all aimed at his twice a month venting of “grievances” against City Manager David Hawker and the city council in general, on the way the city is being managed.
Normally Mr. Warner takes a full allocation of “public comment” time at the beginning of each council meeting, methodically dragging Mr. Hawker and the council over the coals on any number of subjects. When he’s done, some folks might think “How come the whole city council isn’t in jail?”
On most city council evenings the council sits quietly and listens closely to what Mr. Warner is saying, and then when Mr. Warner has concluded his remarks, Mayor Dick Anderson politely thanks him for his comments and then calls the name of the next citizen to speak.
But on March 24th, Mr. Warner’s comments were even more biting than usual. They were about the city’s handling of an issue before the “The Villages” Homeowner’s Association, of which some city councilors are board members by virtue of the city’s purchase of the property in a distressed developer’s sale. Warner contended that a homeowner was hassled by the city for having installed a longer than normal driveway and constructed an unapproved deck, both in violation of the homeowner’s association requirements as originally laid out long before the city bought the property. Warner, in so many words, labeled the homeowner’s association as bullies and that they, including the councilor board members, had slapped a third of a million dollar fine on the homeowner and ordered him to tear up the driveway and remove the deck – which he did.
The council had heard enough. City Attorney Richard Appicello began preparing a response in what was obviously becoming, in his and the council’s view, a growing impression from such allegations that any prospective home buyer or developer might have good cause to avoid doing any business with the city-owned “Villages,” even if Mr. Warner’s allegations were false and utterly misleading – which they are, according to the council.
The city has an enormous amount of taxpayer dollars invested in The Villages, all aimed at developing the property as well as preserving iconic open space on “The Knoll” atop the hill – diverse and quality development and open space preservation that might not otherwise be possible except for the investment by the city.
In an effort to “clear the air,” Mr. Appicello prepared a formal response to Mr. Warner’s long list of allegations. To read that response, click here.