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Falling back to get ahead faster – Approving medical marijuana rules – An updated citizen survey and transforming Lighthouse Square back in limbo

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Getting Devils Lake Sewered

Efforts to provide city sewer service to portions of Devils Lake continued last night before the Lincoln City City Council – and it was a bit bumpy due to the fact that part of the area the city wanted to include in its first installment decided they didn’t want to give the city an easement to lay more pipe. The city had originally included the Lake Cove Drive area of the lake but homeowners wouldn’t grant the city the easements for the pipes and pump stations.

Although Lake Cove was included in last year’s plans the number of homes they would add to the larger area being sewered was not all that significant, according to city staff. The project could go on without their 15 homes because there are over 50 other homes in the NE Voyager, Lake Drive and 15th street area that want the sewer extended to their properties – and they’re ready to move forward.

So to prevent any stalling in the city’s efforts to get the lake sewered, and hopefully restore higher water quality by reducing sewer inflow from old, tired or broken septic systems that predominate around the lake, the council decided to go with the area that wants sewer service and leave Lake Cove on their own until they request to be hooked up to city sewer service. Under the revised plan approved by council, those 15 homeowners will have to pay their full fair share when they eventually hook up.

City staff seemed happy with the decision in that they’ll be able to install city sewer to replace old and/or failing septic systems that are leaking into the lake. After the homes are hooked up, the city will be able get more experience with the hybrid system they’re using to extend the service to those 50 or so homes. If it works out as well as city staff believes it will, it will likely entice other homeowners around the lake to get off their septics and join the effort to get the whole lake sewered.

Approving Medical Marijuana Sales in Lincoln City

After months of discussions and a lot of “back and forth” with various community leaders in Lincoln City, the City Council approved rules regulating medical marijuana dispensaries inside their city limits. Although the council had tossed around the idea of keeping the dispensaries one thousand feet away from churches, pre-school facilities and 2,000 feet from another dispensary, the council threw them all out. They reasoned that there are over 20 churches in Lincoln City, and to honor a 1,000 foot radius around all the churches would ensure no medical marijuana dispensaries could legally set up shop anywhere in the city. The same reasoning was used to eliminate the 1,000 foot spacing between preschool and day care facilities because history shows that such operations move around all the time and would, if the law was taken literally, bump dispensaries out of business altogether by being so mobile. And the idea of no dispensary being allowed to set up within 2,000 feet of another dispensary also appeared onerous to those who are licensed by the state and are, by law dispensing medicine. So the Council threw that out too.

However, the council did approve some regulations that are more strict than those originally handed down by the state legislature. Dispensaries wanting to set up shop in Lincoln City will be limited to strictly commercially zoned properties and they’ll have to properly dispose of any marijuana “waste” that is generated inside the dispensary. The owner of “Pipe Dreams” dispensary said those provisions should not be a problem for his or other dispensary businesses.

New medical marijuana dispensary applicants will soon be able to seek a city license and be ready to set up shop after January first, when the city’s current dispensary moratorium expires.

Citizens sound off in latest city wide survey

City Manager David Hawker reported to the council that the latest city-wide citizens survey was complete and returned to city hall – 42% of all registered voters filling them out and ensuring the surveys got back to city hall. Hawker said in some ways nothing has change – but in others there has been some new wrinkles.

Here’s a quick graph showing how respondents feel about the way they want to see Lincoln City grow, or not grow in the foreseeable future.

Courtesy Lincoln City

Courtesy Lincoln City

As you can see respondents fully support the construction of more affordable housing for lower income families – that they want more apartments being built to accommodate lower wage earners but also more single family homes. But they want less vacation home rentals, hotels and motels.

When it came to subject areas that are the most important to the respondents the big winners were Quality Health Care, Lower Crime, Quality Neighborhoods, Family Wage Jobs and Lincoln City’s beaches and ocean.

How to fund repairs to Lincoln City’s aging streets

City Manager David Hawker then pointed to the survey’s confusing tabulation about how city residents want to fund street improvements and repairs. As you can see from the list below, everybody wants better streets, but the town looks evenly split on how they disagree with each other over how to fund it all. It prompted Hawker to admonish the council that funding street repairs is going to be a tough job for the next city council.

All want the streets fixed but can't agree on where the money should come from...

All want the streets fixed but can’t agree on where the money should come from…

Hawker reminded the council that when streets are not properly maintained or renovated, they deteriorate all the way through to the road bed. At that point, he said, things get really expensive. It’s much better to maintain your investment than to neglect it, lose it, and have to pay for everything all over again.

The full citizens survey is available for public viewing on line on the city’s website. To take a look just click here.

Lincoln City to add “flexibility” in approving stores exceeding 60,000 square feet

And the city council put the kabosh on plans by the owner of Lighthouse Square properties to expand his facility for the likes of Fred Meyer or other so-called “Big Box” stores. The owner wanted the city to modify city codes to allow him to create a store larger than 60,000 square feet by modifying some of the buildings he already has on site. The council said it wants to keep a lid on excessively large stores that would diminish Lincoln City’s hometown feel and smaller, human scale shopping experiences. They said they didn’t want giant stores with huge concrete walls surrounded by acres of parking bereft of landscaping.

But the council did come back half-way to say they would be willing to discuss strategies for property owners to expand their stores involving second stories, among other things, as long as they give something back like landscaping, attractive architecture and other “softening amenities.” They said the city’s current system seeks to maintain the city’s traditional small town feel and its small town shopping experience. The council instructed staff to refer the issue to the city planning commission for further study. When the commission has a proposed re-make of how to accommodate larger stores they can send it back up to the council for review and possible approval.

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