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County continues mulling right-of-way restrictions

By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, April 1, 2021

Flower stands, vegetable booths and those selling firewood in the public right of way along county-owned roads could soon find new restrictions.

An addition to county rules could restrict booths where financial transactions occur.

The new ordinance went through a second hearing before Clatsop County commissioners Wednesday evening and was continued to their April 14 meeting as members preferred allowing some traditional activities.

“We are a real community and a lot of people identify with these stands and appreciate seeing them,” Commissioner Courtney Bangs said.

“We were all favorable to allowing flower stands and stands that could be open without a safety concern,” Chairman Mark Kujala said. “State highways are not subject to this at all. State highways don’t allow for anything in the right of way. A lot of people think this is something that applies countywide and it doesn’t. It’s just on county right of way.”

In September, county commissioners placed a moratorium on activities that encroach on county-maintained rights of way, including Ridge Road, where several people sell firewood from stands.

The problem is not with firewood or flower stands that sit on private property.

It became a touchy subject during the fall election. One of the firewood stand operators, Allen Berry, was running for a seat on the Warrenton City Commission and he complained he was being unfairly targeted.

Since then, the county has held three separate work sessions to craft a fair ordinance setting standards for access permits and other activities on public rights of way.

The new ordinance, which will have a final public hearing April 14, gives authority to the county’s director of Public Works or the county engineer to allow reasonable exceptions. It prohibits the use of county right of way for commercial purposes or any use that results in financial transactions.

County staff developed the ordinance with three goals in mind, County Manager Don Bohn said. They wanted to require a permit for any right-of-way incursion, prohibit commercial activities and ensure safety and fairness for all.

Some residents have been under the mistaken impression all flower and fruit stands in the county, regardless of location, would be prohibited.

“I have talked more about the right of way in the past two weeks than I have in the past 25 years,” he said.

County Manager Don Bohn

County Commissioner Courtney Bangs

Clatsop County Commission Chairman Mark Kujala

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