Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Astoria City Council delays a process to sell properties deemed excess by staff .  Last month the council agreed to appoint a local real estate company, Area Properties, to handle the sales details on city-owned land and further agreed to hold public hearings on a parcel-by-parcel basis.

 There are hundreds of pieces of property available scattered throughout the city. Some are even outside city limts. In many cases the prperties are very small and would be appropriate to add to an adjoining property. Others are larger but may not be completely buildable.  No known slide properties are on the list as the city does not sell land in a known slide area.  Some of those properties may have just enough room to build a structure with the remainder a steep slope.  Before the city may sell public property under most circumstances formal public hearings must be held.  The question was whether to hold hearings on all  properties at once to satisfy the requirement, or to take a different approach.  The council opted to hold public hearings in the event the real estate firm recieves an offer on a particular parcel.  Monday night the council was to set public hearings for four properties that had gone through the negotiation process and were forwarded to the city by area properties but enough complications arose regarding notice to neighbors, the timing of the hearings and other aspects of the process that the council decided to send City Manager Paul Benoit back to the drawing board.  Benoit said that he will work with staff to create a step by step outline of exactly how the sales process will work. Area properties is handling the notice and price negotiations and it's the first time the city has attempted to sell this many individual properties and the first time a private firm has been used in this manner.

 

In another matter Monday evening the council approved two elements that must be part of  the Senior Center renovation plan.  The $1.5 million in funding comes from a community development block grant which in turn gets it's funding from a federal program.  That federal funding depends on the city incorporating two elements in the senior center plan.  The first is an effort to make sure any contractor on the job complies with equal opportunity employment laws and, second, the city must have a plan in place to ensure that those with limited proficency in english are made aware of and have access to city programs and services.

After three years of planning and public comment under the city planning commission the council approved new ordinances dealing with solar power installations for properties in town. This is part one of a two part effort to deal with alternative energy projects. The second part will set up criteria for wind power projects in the city and that portion has yet to be developed.

 

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