Still talking airplane crash at the beach – also major commercial development at the Newport Airport and… a horse doesn’t belong in a tightly packed neighborhood
The Newport City Council got off to a prickly start Monday night – callers on the phone chastising Mayor Dean Sawyer for being behind the wheel of his single engine private aircraft and who barely managed to crash land it on the Newport beach just north of the jetties last year. A woman and her young son who wanted to go flying over large groups of whales around Depoe Bay were having a wonderful time – that is until Mayor Sawyer’s plane started losing power. The Mayor managed to get them back to Newport, but not quite to the Newport Airport. Mayor Sawyer fought with his controls and managed to belly-flop his plane on the beach without anyone around, just north of the jetties. The mother was badly injured but her son and Mayor Sawyer were not seriously hurt.
Months later a settlement between Mayor Sawyer and his passenger family seemed to write the last chapter in the ordeal. But the Federal Aviation Administration had the final word. They claimed that Sawyer had not properly maintained his plane by not having it inspected according to FAA regulations. FAA inspectors also pointed out that Mayor Sawyer failed to be consistently tested for medical fitness as part of his qualifications to be a pilot.
Getting back to the city council meeting, the callers called for Mayor Sawyer’s removal not only from the position of mayor but also from the council itself. City councilors were quickly reminded that city ordinances do not allow city councilors to kick anyone off the council. Only the voters have that power, according to City Manager Spencer Nebel. We’ll just have to wait and see whether enough citizen voters are willing to vote Sawyer out of office or if the whole incident will blow over.
The City Council then turned their attention to something a bit lighter. The city council was told by Newport Airport officials that a developer wants to take over ten acres at the south end of the Newport Airport for construction of light industrial and possibly even regular retail businesses. The council appeared very interested in the plans and very pleased with the likelihood of expanding Newport’s overall distribution/or manufacturing operations that just might be under construction within a few months. Final plans are a ways “out there” but the developer and airport staff sounded very optimistic about the project.
A Newport woman who owns a very old horse pleaded with the city council to allow her aging animal to remain at her home above the Bayfront. Realizing a troublesome situation when they saw one – one that is not allowed under city codes – the council expressed their understanding but no willingness to break city laws. In short, large farm animals don’t belong in the middle of city neighborhoods. The horse owner pleaded with the council promising to eventually move her horse to a more suitable location. The city council voted to remove the animal from the owners back yard but with no specific date in mind. They’ll negotiate the date with the owner of the horse which had recently been treated for a medical issue.
And the City Council voted to upgrade their dialog with Newport residents. The councilors agreed with City Manager Spencer Nebel that if the Covid-19 pandemic is any indicator it’s probably not a good idea to continue to expect that everyone will be cooped up in a room with the city councilors during a virus panemic. The conversation quickly included setting up public gathering places either at City Hall or at some other Newport location where city officials and regular citizens can converse constructively via internet video-networking to find constructive solutions to city challenges. There was a lot of support for conducting City Hall business from near and far via the internet. The council agreed that a new system of dialog between city councilors and the citizens of Newport is on the horizon.