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Friday, August 7, 2009
It's time to slow down and stop this fast-track rush to sell off control of land in Minto-Brown Park before the public is well-informed about the stakes. Image by c_smith2k000 via FlickrOne of the most maddening things about the city's proposal to sell off control of 200 acres of precious, rich agricultural land on Minto-Brown Island is the way that the whole thing, from the very start, seems to have been designed to be accomplished without any public awareness and certainly without significant public involvement.
The original proposal was put onto the City Council's CONSENT agenda -- the one that gets no discussion! And until a citizen told the City Council that the project wasn't even listed on the City website stimulus projects page, it was missing in action there as well.
And today, August 7, here are the "major topics" listed on the city website (list below). Notice anything that's conspicuous by its absence? That's right -- there's a proposal to radically change the use of a beloved city park by permanently ceding control of 200 acres of it to the federal government -- in direct contradiction to the current park master plan (which calls for agriculture to be continued, not reduced by 80%) that is nowhere listed as a "major topic" on the city website.
By way of contrast with the way Salem has handled this radical change in activity in Minto, let's compare the process that the city makes you go through to get a residential parking zone established on your street (to prevent high school kids and downtown employees from parking in front of your house all day):
To get your street added to the 90-minute-only parking zone, the citizen petitioner is required to knock on the door and notify 100% --- each and every one --- of the affected neighbors, even if they already have a no parking zone in front of their house. THEN the citizen is required to submit the petition to the Neighborhood Association for their endorsement. If the citizen fails to contact _all_ the affected residences (and to get 3/4 support from them all), or to go through the neighborhood association, no action will be taken.
Is the permanent loss of control of 200 acres of a unique public park really less significant than getting a 90-minute parking zone established in a residential neighborhood? If not, then why has the public not been given at least the same level of notice and opportunity to comment?
Keeping of Urban Chickens
Neighborhood Services Program
Sign Code Amendments
Shopping Cart Ordinance
Police Department Facility Task Force
Salem River Crossing Project (3rd Bridge)
Parks & Recreation System Master Plan
Mark Becktel, Parks & Transportation Services Manager, 503-588-6211
Minto Island Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge
Revising the definition of "livestock" to exclude chickens will make it much easier for Salem to permit backyard hens. Image via Wikipedia
Please take a moment to send a note to the Salem Planning Commission to ask them to recommend that Salem take chickens OUT of the definition of "livestock." And if you can attend this upcoming Planning Commission meeting, please do.
What: Planning Commission Public Hearing
When: Tuesday, August 18 at 5:30 pm
, Salem City Hall , Room 240. 555 Liberty St.
Why: A hearing on whether the Planning Commission should recommend that Salem City Council correct the definition of livestock to exclude chickens. (Livestock is forbidden in residential areas, so if chickens are defined as livestock, then no hens in most of Salem.)
Please send a brief letter or email to the commission staff to urge the Commission to revise the definition of livestock to exclude chickens. Include your name, address.
Bryce Bishop, Associate Planner
– Planning Division Salem
, Room 305 555 Liberty Street SE Salem, OR 97301
This change would make it easier to get an ordinance permitting backyard hens and to revise that ordinance without having to go through the detour of the Planning Commission. A backyard hens ordinance will be discussed at a future city council meeting, probably in September. Getting the definition of livestock revised to exclude chickens will make it much easier for Salem to permit backyard hens!
Note that Planning Commission meetings are on Tuesdays, but they are held in the same place and have the same format as City Council meetings (signup to speak, 3 minutes only).A few days before the meeting on August 18th, the agenda will be posted online.