PASCO -- The Pasco City Council voted Monday to allow farming on vacant land that was at the center of a corn maze controversy almost two years ago.
The council voted 6-1 to accept the planning commission's recommendations to allow Phil Schmitt to farm 18 acres on the 2000 block of Road 72 in west Pasco. Councilman Al Yenney voted against it.
Several conditions were included in the special permit, including: not allowing irrigation water to drain or be sprayed onto the adjoining right of way; not allowing farm equipment to turn around in the roadway; limiting crops to alfalfa or row crops; permitting 18 head of cattle only from Nov. 1 to March 3; and creating a dust control plan that must be approved by the city prior to site grading.
The permit is valid for three years and will automatically extend for two additional years if Schmitt follows the conditions.
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Neighbor Roger Lenk appealed the planning commission's decision on behalf of himself and other nearby property owners.
It is the same property where the Schmitts proposed opening a corn maze in fall 2009 near Faith Assembly Christian Center. The current proposal does not include plans for a corn maze.
Neighbors claimed the farm would damage the character of the suburban residential neighborhood and the farm activities would create noise, dust, vibrations and diesel exhaust, according to Lenk's appeal.
* Ron George, owner of Chief's RV in Pasco, told the council he is not happy about large car-hauling trucks parking along the west side of 28th Street by his business.
The trucks regularly park in no parking zones, creating a safety hazard for customers of the businesses along the street and employees entering and exiting the parking lots, he said.
He said this happens two to three times a week as the truck driver unloads vehicles for the nearby car dealership.
George said he has contacted City Manager Gary Crutchfield and the Pasco police on numerous occasions and pointed out that the east side of 28th Street is a parking zone but the drivers refuse to use it because it's not convenient.
Watkins said he remembers there being a safety issue along that stretch of 28th Street "which is why we put the 'No Parking' signs up on the west side."
George said he made provisions for unloading RVs on his own property and suggested the city have the dealership do the same.
Watkins asked Crutchfield to "take a harder look at the problem."
* The council voted to hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. June 6 to consider vacating Saint Fran Court.
* The council reappointed Richard Brandt to the Senior Services Advisory Committee.
* The council voted 6-1 to fund Local Improvement District No. 146 internally with an installment note for $89,351 rather than issuing bonds. Councilman Tom Larsen voted against it.
The LID improvements included street widening, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, storm drainage and street lighting for the east Pasco neighborhood.
On April 11 the city's Fire Pension Board approved the use of funds to invest in the LID 10-year installment note with an interest rate of 3.6 percent.
Crutchfield pointed out the city would avoid the cost of issuing bonds making this an easier and less expensive way to pay for the improvements.
* Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins read a proclamation declaring May 15-21 National Police Week in Pasco.
He also declared May 15 Peace Officers Memorial Day in Pasco, "a time to remember all the officers here, in the state and nationally, who have made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives or become disabled doing their duty."
He presented the proclamation to Pasco Police Chief Denis Austin and said he, and the residents of Pasco, appreciate the risk Austin and his officers take every day to keep the city safe.
* Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org