County tables ADU ordinance

County tables ADU ordinance

On Wednesday, April 10, the Board of Josephine County Commissioners tabled an ordinance that would allow the construction of accessory dwelling units on properties in rural residential zones.
Convened at the Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass, the commissioners’ decision to postpone a public hearing on Ordinance 2023-006 stemmed from their uncertainty as to whether Oregon Department of Forestry is an eligible fire protection entity. If this is not the case, some properties in Josephine County would not be allowed to build ADUs, due to being out of range of both a fire protection district and Rural Metro, the county’s sole private firefighting organization.
Earlier this year, the commissioners unanimously updated the county code to make ODF an eligible fire protection entity for constructing residential buildings on rural lots.
JoCo Community Development Deputy Director James Black explained during the meeting that Ordinance 2023-006 would also allow for the conversion of historic homes – “these are homes dated 1945 and earlier” – into ADUs.
“The Rural Planning Commission held a hearing Oct. 2, 2023 recommending approval of these text amendments for ADUs,” Black added.
Among the requirements a property must meet to build an ADU include the following:
-The lot or parcel for the ADU is at least two acres in size and not located within an urban reserve as mapped in the county’s GIS system;
-One single family dwelling is sited on the lot or parcel and the dwelling is not subject to an order declaring a nuisance or subject to any pending action under ORS 105.550 to 105.600;
-The ADU shall comply with all applicable laws and regulations relating to sanitation and wastewater disposal and treatment;
-The ADU may not be used for vacation occupancy as defined in ORS 90.100;

-Only one ADU is allowed on any lot or parcel.

The requirement that gave the commissioners pause stipulated, “Provide proof of service by a fire protection service provider with professionals who have received training or certification described in ORS 181A.410, as required by ORS 215.495.” Black said this was the one requirement that was not derived from state statute; it was added by county legal counsel.

Before making the decision to table the ordinance, the commissioners tried unsuccessfully to get a straightforward question answered, which Board Chair John West posed to Black: “Is ODF not considered a fire service?”

Black responded, “I don’t know, sir. I’m not going to comment on the fire safety stuff that’s going on right now.”

Commissioner Herman Baertschiger then chimed in, “Well, we have to vote on this, so we got to have an answer to that.”

“Is ODF a fire service provider?” Black repeated. “I can’t answer that for you.”

West then worded his question differently: “Ok, so it says provide proof of service by a fire protection service provider. So if I pay property taxes to ODF, which is a fire protection service, does that meet this part of the statute?”

This time Black replied, “That is up to county legal and you, as the board for Josephine County.”

Still unsatisfied, West stated, “For me, I don’t know how I can move this forward until I get that answer because I need to know that.”

County Legal Counsel Wally Hicks was also asked for clarification, but said he didn’t “want to make a declaration” on whether ODF can be considered a fire protection service.

Baertschiger said, “That’s fair,” and, “We’ve gotten in trouble for not making sure all of our ducks are in a row,” before calling for the ordinance to be tabled until a declaration can be put forth in the matter.

All three commissioners were in agreement on tabling the ordinance indefinitely.

A handful of county employees were recognized for their service at the April 10 meeting. “All of our employees are great, but we just get to recognize some of them every so often for their time of service,” West said before reading the list of honorees:

Cindy Edwards – Veteran Services, 15 years; Ben Latava – Juvenile Justice, 15 years; Maria Valdez – Sheriff’s Office, 15 years; David Astry – Public Works, 10 years; Joan Ann Beatty – Community Corrections, five years; Tony Smith – Community Corrections, five years; Jeffrey Marks – Assessor’s Office, five years; Robert Dolly – Sheriff’s Office, five years; Stephanie Slayton – Transit, five years; Doug Olenick – Facility Services, five years; Craig Owen – Juvenile Justice, five years.

Only Olenick and Owen were available to receive their plaques during the session.

JoCo Juvenile Justice Director Jim Goodwin said of Owen, “He worked with the department a long, long time ago as an A&D counselor with the local agency here, ADAPT, and did a lot of work with us when we fired up our prevention program a few years ago. And we have folks embedded in the high schools all around the county. Craig was hired for that job for North Valley, and I can tell you that they very much appreciate him out there. He works really well with the admin team, and the idea behind these jobs is to keep these kids from coming to us and penetrating deeper into the system. So we’re very happy to have him and glad that he hung in there for five years.”