Code changes fail due to fencing rule

The second reading and adoption of an ordinance to amend the Rural Land Development Code of Josephine County was held Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Anne G. Basker Auditorium by the JoCo Board of Commissioners, which failed to approve the ordinance. The first reading was held Nov. 9, and the board hopes to see changes made that would enable them to pass it early next year.
A notable facet of the ordinance is the extension of deadlines for developers to complete construction on approved subdivisions. Currently, the deadline is two years after approval, with the opportunity to prolong to four; when the changes take effect, it will be six years with the option to prolong to ten.
Deputy Community Development Director James Black, addressing the board via Zoom, commented, “Some developers out there wanted a little more time during this economic period we’re in right now. They needed more time to get some of these bigger projects through.”
It was noted during the first hearing that 10 years is the maximum amount of time state law allows for tentative housing plans to be executed. Josephine would become one of the few counties in the region to push the deadline further than five years.

A brief recap of other text amendments that Ordinance 2022-010 will make to the Rural Land Development Code:
-Remand hearings: Adds, “If the remand hearing will involve the introduction of new evidence, any person may raise new issues which relate to the new evidence, arguments, testimony or criteria for decision-making which apply to the matter at issue.”
Previously, only persons or organizations that were parties to the higher appeal were granted this ability, and that will still be the case if no new evidence is introduced from the higher appeal.
-Permitted uses: Changes definition of family daycare dwellings from less than 13 children to less than 16.
-Fences, walls and screens: Adds, “Sight-obscuring fences or walls may be placed in front yards provided such fences or walls do not exceed three and one-half feet in height.”
Black clarified, as he did during the first hearing, that the three and one-half foot rule used to be included in the Rural Land Development Code but “dropped off” somehow when the Josephine County Code was compiled in 2019. The Community Development department wanted to reattach the language in this ordinance.
Commissioner Dan DeYoung asked if there would be an exemption for agricultural properties, as “a three and a half foot fence isn’t gonna keep a herd of cows in down on Lower River Rd.”