ENTERPRISE - A landowner's offer to sell the city gravel produced from a residential zone drew no support last week from the Enterprise City Council, which voted unanimously to follow the city planning commission's advice and reject the idea.

The proposal, from Hank Welms, concerns an existing supply of gravel located on the hill above Golf Course Road and above the city shop. According to city officials, in the early 2000s the city allowed gravel crushing at the site to be used specifically for a subdivision planned there at the time. The subdivision was never developed, however.

A few years ago, the city placed a stop work order on the owner and Louis Perry for hauling rock off of the hill for other commercial ventures, a planning commission document states.

More recently, Welms, through attorney Rahn Hostetter, asked the city to purchase the gravel. The council's Public Works Committee initially discussed the matter, which then went to the planning commission, the body that had rendered the original land use decision to allow the rock crushing.

In revisiting the issue, the planning commission highlighted a number of points it deemed relevant. For starters, the commission noted that the residentially zoned property was approved for development on three separate occasions, and that rock crushing at the site was allowed "for the purposes of infrastructure improvements to the property only. A condition was placed on the approval that this [gravel] not be allowed to be sold commercially." The commission noted further that the applicant had "violated that condition at least three times."

With two businesses already selling crushed rock locally, the community doesn't need the rock from this hill, the commission argued, and suggested the rock be left where it is, keeping it available for its original approved use in developing the site.

The commission itself unanimously voted to recommend the offer's rejection.

Attorney Hostetter, informed later of the city council's decision, noted that Welms' offer was to the city only and the client had no intention of selling the gravel commercially otherwise. The gravel would be "very accessible to the city," he added, but "if the city can't work that [arrangement] out, we accept that."

Elsewhere on the Enterprise council's regular meeting agenda this month was the matter of a $90,000 local government grant to build, in Mayor Steve Lear's words, "a new commercial, state-of-the-art public restroom" at City Park. "Ninety-thousand dollars for a toilet?" Lear exclaimed a moment later.

"We're having to put in sewer lines, power lines. It's a pretty big project," city administrator Michele Young replied, adding that the project also involved "tearing down the existing building and the whole works."

The council unanimously approved applying for the grant, offered through Oregon Parks and Recreation.

Although the project involves removing the existing restrooms building, the new restrooms would not return to that northern footprint. Plans call instead for the ice skating rink to relocate there from its current spot at the park's southern end.

Some other council actions last week included:

• Granting members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation $1,000 to support greater advertising of the group's upcoming local banquet, scheduled March 10.

• Formally designating two Main Street buildings - the one currently housing The Bookloft and the other serving Treasures - as historic landmarks. With the designation, the buildings become eligible for facade restoration grants.

• Establishing a code of ethics for the city council as detailed in Resolution 549, a 16-point document.

The governing group also waded into the particulars surrounding a proposed, small passive solar energy development on city sewage treatment plant property. After around half an hour of discussion, the mayor and councilors determined they had too many unanswered questions to decide whether to support the proposal. They instead formed a review committee with two members - councilors Doug Terry and Laura Miller - who would try to quickly resolve all issues before Enterprise government took the matter up again soon in a special meeting.

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