By editorial board • 

Councilors should grant opponents new hearing

McMinnville city councilors on Tuesday will be presented a staff report on the Oak Ridge Meadows Land-Use Applications, which would combine two previously approved, but still unbuilt planned developments (2000 and 2004) and approve a tentative subdivision plan.

The council will then be asked if it would like to plan a public hearing on the matter. 

The applications already produced a public hearing in front of the city Planning Commission, so the council is not required to hold a second before acting on the three ordinances. Councilors can absorb the lengthy staff report, then take action solely on the record of that previous hearing and the commission’s recommendation for approval.

It might be easy to conclude residents from multiple affected neighborhoods previously had their opportunity for testimony, and that there’s little relevant new information to consider. Perhaps so, but we would suggest there is more at risk to the city than the inconvenience of holding another public hearing.

We encourage the council to play out the diverse, highly contentious issues related to this development project, and to schedule their own public hearing on the matter.

Opposition, aimed only at a small, specific portion of the overall development, should not be simply dismissed as another case of NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard). There are potentially legitimate concerns related to the impact and mitigation of wetlands; the possibility that development in recent decades has turned certain wetlands into flood plains; whether the city adequately facilitated accurate new hydrology mapping by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

We don’t have the answers, but we have listened to the claims of nearby residents that flooding of the area proposed for development has increased exponentially in recent years. Opposition from the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District echoed some of those concerns.

Tensions surrounding the matter are as heated as we have seen in recent years related to any major development project. Right or wrong, opponents are claiming that their concerns have been minimized and their voices quashed in the name of pushing this development through a potentially flawed process.

Denying the opponents a hearing in front of a McMinnville governing body could set in stone a rift between local government and the constituents from those westside neighborhoods. They are asking for a last opportunity to present their perspective on issues that could produce future city liability if they are correct.

The council should at least listen.

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