By unanimous vote Monday night (Nov. 8), the Cottage Grove City Council opted into the Statewide Tobacco Retail Licensure Program to allow the State of Oregon to operate and enforce the provisions of the State Tobacco Retail Licensure Program within the City of Cottage Grove.
The Oregon Legislature passed a bill this year which created the Statewide Tobacco Retail Licensure Program.
The state program recognizes that there are a few local jurisdictions which have created a local licensing program and the legislation allows communities to continue to administer the locally adopted tobacco licensing programs if they also agree to enforce the provisions of the state law.
To retain their local programs, local governments must enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Department of Revenue. Local communities with an established local tobacco license can choose to allow the state to assume the enforcement and enter into the state-operated tobacco license program.
Cottage Grove is one among few cities which has a local tobacco licensing program and had previously partnered with Lane County in operation and enforcement.
The county, though, has opted into the state-run program, which will result in the loss of coordination between the Cottage Grove and the county.
Councilor Greg Ervin asked what impact the state-run program would have for local retailers.
City Recorder Trudy Borrevik explained that the city normally sends out notices in November of each to year to renew licenses, but the county has not been doing enforcement since 2019.
“We used to get reports from them, but we haven’t received anything for [three] years now,” she said.
It was not clear if the licensure process would be changing significantly, though.
There will be no cost to the city for the state-run licensure program. The existing local tobacco retail license will be repealed at a future meeting.
In other city council news:
The council voted unanimously for an ordinance amending the city’s code regarding flood damage prevention.
The amendment changes the definition of “de minimus development” and changes construction requirements for electrical, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, plumbing, duct systems, and other equipment.
Now, the “de minimus development” definition does not include “paving or hardscaping of flat areas.” The change can be important, as paving is considered “development” in floodplains, and all development, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements, solid fences or other non-de minimis development, are prohibited in the regulatory floodway.
Having paving as a “de minimis” development causes confusion as to whether it is exempt in the floodway. Recent guidance has said that paving cannot be considered exempt development in the floodway, hence the need for a code change.
The text amendment also makes a change to a subsection related to the elevation of electrical and mechanical systems.
The subsection will be replaced with language which says that all equipment must be raised above the base flood elevation as part of development or flood-proofed if possible.
The change will ensure the city is in compliance with the Community Rating System prerequisites that include the elevation of electrical and mechanical systems and the flood-proofing of any systems that cannot be fully elevated.
No comments were made during the public hearing of the ordinance.
Council voted to approve the appointment of the Jennifer Morrocco to the Audit Committee for a three-year term, to expire July 31, 2024.
Area resident Duane Taddei clarified a previous appeal he had made to the city council in public comment regarding a sidewalk order at Taylor Avenue and implored councilors to revisit the order and overturn it.
Taddei said he was concerned that councilors did not take the opportunity during the previous council session to discuss whether the sidewalk order was the right thing to do. He sympathized with the fear of a homeowner receiving a notice from the city that would put a lien on one’s home for not complying with the order.
Taddei pointed to other sidewalks which needed attention as examples of unequal treatment.
“Unless the city is going to go after every property owner … Don’t ask anybody or force anybody to do it,” he said. “I’m asking you to treat everybody equally.”
Councilor Jon Stinnett reported he was pleased with the public turnout at a public input session over the weekend regarding the Master Plan for Cottage Grove and Dorena lakes.
Councilor Mike Fleck said the Community Sharing Warming Shelter is aiming to be in operation next week and confirmed the site will aim to open at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Councilor Ervin said he attended a Taylor Avenue neighborhood meeting regarding the recent sidewalk order on that street.
He said residents did not seem to be asking for the sidewalk order to be withdrawn but were aware the sidewalks needed repair and preferred to use the city’s resources to do construction.
“The conclusion from that was that they would get a far better deal having the city do it,” he said.
He said miscommunication seemed to be a key issue behind some of the residents’ frustrations.
Also, following his attendance at a Lane Economic Committee meeting, Ervin recommended the city look into using Business Oregon as a resource for helping local businesses.
Councilor Chalice Savage praised the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce for the Halloween Hootinanny.
Councilor Kenneth Michael Roberts questioned whether bricks at the old Moose Lodge on Highway 99 had become a nuisance.
“I think of our tourism and people who come in from the south side on 99 and one of the first things they see are those bricks,” he said.
Roberts then praised the city for providing a safe space for homeless people in the back of the Community Center.
He also suggested the city may need to revisit the sidewalk order issue.
Councilors Stinnett, Fleck and Ervin all suggested revisiting rules around public comments at city council meetings as a resident who wanted to speak had been turned away during the public comment period due to confusion around the appropriate protocol for sign-up.
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