County approves rezoning ordinance

The March 15 weekly business session of the Board of Josephine County Commissioners began with a public hearing for the second reading and adoption of Ordinance 2023-001, which would amend the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map of Josephine County by rezoning a group of properties in Merlin from residential to commercial. The first reading was held March 1.
The owner of the property is VonGottsegen Trust and the rezoning applicant is Two Rocks, LLC.
Board Chair Herman Baertschiger explained, “These properties are located on Merlin-Galice Rd, kind of right in Merlin,” before inviting Tammy Smith of the JoCo Planning Department to provide further details and “refresh our memories.”

Smith recapped that the Planning Commission signed off on the rezoning and no appeals were filed.

Meeting frequenter Judy Ahrens testified during the public hearing and wanted to know what the benefit to the community would be of changing the property from residential to commercial and if any neighboring residences would be adversely impacted.

Smith assuaged these concerns by stating that the property is already surrounded by other commercial properties, with residences located behind it. She also shared that the property owner plans to submit a pre-application for a site plan review.

Commissioner Dan DeYoung added, “It’s right on Merlin-Galice Rd and it’s all commercial all the way around it. We have to be very careful with taking residences and turning it into commercial, but Merlin seems to be a commercial hub, and so the residential right there along the thoroughfare is almost out of place.”

He referred to the matter as “housekeeping,” and said, “We didn’t get any kickback from anybody anywhere along the line… If anybody out there had any concerns, we should have heard about it by now.”

Commissioner John West said he had “no concerns and no comments,” clearing the path for the ordinance to be unanimously adopted by a 3-0 vote.

Under the board’s consent calendar, a stormwater management memorandum was signed with the Fort Vannoy Irrigation District and a stormwater management intergovernmental agreement was amended between JoCo Public Works and the Grants Pass Irrigation District.

Baertschiger abstained from the vote on these agreements because he lives within the Fort Vannoy Irrigation District “and our farm does some work and some management for the Fort Vannoy Irrigation District.”

The consent calendar passed by a 2-0 vote.

Four county employees were recognized by the board at their March 15 session, all of which have been with JoCo for five years: John Clark – Recreation Department; Lisa Watson – Facility Services; Garrett Kaiser – Sheriff’s Office; and Sarah Eden – Human Resources.

None of said employees were present at the meeting, and Baertschiger joked, “That’s good. They’re working.”

The board chair went on, “We would like to take this time to recognize them for their service to Josephine County.”

DeYoung added, “Five years goes by in a hurry, and a lot of these people had just come on board when I got here, and it’s definitely gone by in a hurry. I hope they have many more years with Josephine County in service to the community.”

West remarked, “I have not had the pleasure of getting to meet these folks but I hope I do and I just want to thank them for their hard work, and we’re here to support them and help them in any way we can.”