Council works on ordinances, considers Columbia St. speeds
December 8, 2022
The Cathlamet Town Council on Monday worked on ordinances, settling some and tabling others as they neared the end of their 2023 budget development process.
Council members tabled or failed to pass ordinances establishing a subdivision process and adopting portions of the International Property Maintenance Code.
They did give final approval to ordinances relating to personnel policies and amending the 2022 annual budget, and they gave initial approval to an ordinance adopting the 2023 annual budget and salary schedule.
Council members discussed ways to slow traffic on Columbia Street, with Mayor David Olson saying he would investigate the possibility of installing speed humps, not speed bumps, on the road.
During the public comment period, a Columbia Street resident told the council that traffic goes too fast for safety on the street, with domestic and wild animals being killed.
Olson remarked that the council previously had heard the complaint and wants to address the issue.
"I want to work on this," Olson said. "I can't promise anything by the end of the year, but I want to do so in 2023."
Town Attorney Fred Johnson commented that the street, which was once state highway, was never annexed into the town limits and is a county road above the Alder Street intersection.
Olson said other jurisdictions use speed humps to slow traffic; the hump is not as high as a speed bump but will still slow traffic.
"Speed humps work," commented Council Member Kermit Chamberlin.
The council discussed and tabled action on an ordinance establishing a procedure for creating short plats inside the town limits.
Council Member Jeanne Hendrickson said she felt like the process was being hurried, and she had many concerns about the ordinance. She said it should contain a provision requiring a certificate of title or similar document to guarantee property ownership.
Attorney Johnson said the ordinance, which is based on Wahkiakum County's short plat ordinance, is needed quickly because there are parties wanting to create short plats.
"They are waiting for something the town was supposed to do years ago," he said.
After more discussion, the council agreed to postpone action until Hendrickson and Council Member Robert Stowe could review the ordinance with Johnson and town staff.
After long discussion, the four council members present voted unanimously to approve the 2023 budget ordinance for first reading (ordinances must be considered in at least two separate meetings before final approval).
Council Member Stowe commented on several issues. The budget should include sufficient funding to cover the proposed move of town hall to the former community center quarters in the lower floor of the library building, he said and he also strongly recommended the town pursue a secondary water source as a backup to the Elochoman River water plant.
Olson said Wahkiakum PUD is exploring the possibility of wells on Puget Island and said the town would cooperate with the PUD on that project. The PUD's Puget Island Water System buys its water from the town.
Council members discussed adoption of portions of the International Property Maintenance Code; a motion to adopt the ordinance failed when only two council members voted in favor. Stowe and Chamberlin voted to adopt the ordinance for first reading; Laurel Waller voted against adoption, and Hendrickson abstained. Three votes are required to pass an ordinance, Johnson said, so the motion to adopt failed.
Council members wanted more information about enforcement of provisions regarding vehicles that were abandoned, left parked for a long period or were in disrepair.
Johnson said he would look into other ordinances to clarify provisions and show how the town could minimize costs and limit liability during enforcement.
In other business, Olson announced that the first phase of development of the Butler Street lot was complete. After curbs and paving are cured they can be painted, and the lot can be opened to public parking until further development starts next spring.
Olson also presented three proclamations recognizing 1. the summer reading program at the town's Blanche Bradley Library, 2. the impact and value of the library itself for the community and county, and 3. the work of Librarian Carol Blix to develop library resources and programs, especially after the start of the covid-19 pandemic.