Warning stickers issued
by Randy Parks
The city of Burns is once again attempting to get residents to comply with city ordinances regarding cleaning up their properties.
At the Burns City Council meeting on June 25, City Manager Kraig Cutsforth reported he had met with the department heads individually to be more active on the enforcement of the codes pertaining to the cleaning up of properties in the community.
Cutsforth met with Fire Chief Scott Williamson regarding nuisance properties with grass causing fire hazards, and reported the majority of properties had been identified and had either complied or were in the process of bringing their property into compliance with city ordinance.
Noting that there were a number of vehicles and trailers in city right-of-ways, Cutsforth and Officer Robbie Tiller began issuing notices to residents in the northwest section of town if they were in violation of the ordinances and the law. Cutsforth reported about 15 warning stickers were issued to vehicles or trailers that had either no plates or expired tags, and the owners were not home. They also visited with about another dozen residents that were home, and asked them to correct the violation.
Cutsforth and Tiller will continue with the program on a weekly basis until the entire city is covered, and then it will be a continuing effort to maintain the cleanup.
During the citizens concerns portion of the meeting, three residents were present to express their displeasure over the notifications issued by the city.
Jan Kolar, who lives on West D Street, told the council they had moved their trailer to the right-of-way to accommodate company, then they were away for a few days, and returned home to find a sticker on the trailer. Kolar stated that there were many residents who have trailers, RVs and four-wheelers parked on city right-of-ways, and it had been that way for a number of years. “I’m not pleased to hear we have to maintain it (right-of-way), but not use it,” Kolar said.
She added that she was told the city was going to widen the street, but didn’t know of any plans to actually do that.
Richard Yates, a resident on West E Street, told the council he had petitioned to have the easement deeded to him several years ago, but was told the city wouldn’t be widening the street and he could “go ahead and treat it as your own property.”
Richard Roy, a North Court resident, said the beautification idea is OK, but asked what is the intent or the goal of the current method of enforcement. “If there’s a big plan, OK, but we need to let people know. There’s a process on how to do this,” Roy said.
Councilor Jerry Woodfin asked if their was a precedence in dealing with the right-of-ways. He asked if a resident had a garden on the right-of-way, would they have to move it? And then questioned, “After the garden, or trailer, is moved, does the city clean it up?”
Officer Tiller explained that it is a “junk issue.” He said people can use the right-of-ways, they just can’t store their “junk” there. “If you have a vehicle that doesn’t have a wheel, get it moved,” Tiller said.
Cutsforth added that they were only issuing notifications to vehicles that had no tags or expired tags.
Mayor Craig LaFollette stated it was not the intent of the city to cause anyone grief, and added that only notifications were issued, not citations. He went on to say that a city councilor was one of those that received a notification as well.
“Just because ‘we’ve done it for a lot of years’ doesn’t make it OK. We’re trying to move ahead,” LaFollette said.
Cutsforth stated the drilling for the well at the Burns airport had started, and the tests should be done at the end of the week. He explained that the location of the well had been moved back near the original location because of concerns for a neighbor’s well.
Councilor Terri Presley asked if there was an added cost to the city for having the well-digger move from one location to the other. Cutsforth said they had never started digging at the first location, so there was no added charges.
In other business:
• the council approved a request by the Harney County Opportunity Team to close East A Street on Sept. 13 for the Burns Brewfest;
• Presley said that she was under the impression that the city would not spend any more money on the airport except for what was absolutely essential to the operation of the airport, and asked why money was spent for a swamp cooler?
Airport manager Jeff Cotton stated that he donated the swamp cooler, and the cost was for a contractor to put it in.
Cutsforth noted that the swamp cooler was important because people who arrive late sometimes spend the night in the building, and it gets “unbearable” some times;
• Presley told the council she was following up on the nuisance property on West Johnson, and had talked to the bank about the property;
• the council approved the 2014-2015 budget in the amount of $7,379,296.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 9, at city hall.