By editorial board • 

City is not the answer to homeowners’ beef

It is easy to understand — but much harder to support — homeowners’ frustration as developer Alan Ruden continues work on the Bungalows at Chegwyn Village, his northeast McMinnville subdivision.

A handful of residents complained to the McMinnville Planning Commission last week about the noise, dust and general chaos the development is causing. A quick trip to the growing subdivision north of N.E. Payton Lane and east of N.E. Hembree Street reveals they aren’t exaggerating. It is a noisy neighborhood these days.

Of course, as some of the complaining neighbors acknowledge, they knew the subdivision was far from complete when they bought their homes. Ironically, some bought homes in the second phase of the development. Were they concerned about the disruptions the construction of their homes caused for residents of the first phase?

Again, some people who appear before the planning commission admitted they expected additional construction. Their beef seems to be with length and decibel level of the work as well as the construction vehicles going to and fro.

Ruden told commissioners several problems could have been (and may well be) resolved through better communication and notification. He’s right. In fact, he could have done a better job reassuring neighbors had he met with them personally before they stormed off to a planning commission meeting.

Seriously, what do neighbors expect city officials to do? Tell Ruden he can build 49 additional homes as long as construction vehicles and equipment don’t make any noise?

Some homeowners wanted city officials to install street barricades to redirect traffic and additional signs to slow vehicles. Unfortunately for them, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy haven’t been elected to the zoning commission or city council. There are only so many things elected officials and their staff can do within the legal confines of private property and city streets.

The speed limit in all residential areas is 25 mph, which anyone who passed the test for an Oregon driver’s license should know. If people didn’t read the DMV’s driver’s manual, they’re unlikely to read new signs. Besides, the criteria for putting up signs should not be the number of neighbors raising a stink.

No doubt many lead-footed motorists like to use N.E. Jacobs Street as a dragstrip, which has nothing to do with construction. It is a temptingly long and straight piece of road. Anyone who lives along such a street knows drivers are going to give into such temptations.

People everywhere in a city should know construction is a risk you take unless you live five miles outside of town. Demolition and construction is always a possibility for people who live near other people.

City officials are not going to be able to give neighbors the peace they seek. They need to work with Ruden, Ruden needs to work with them, and there’s no reason to expect government to decide who started the fight and how to finish it.