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'This is still a very difficult decision for us, because our charter still says we would put this to voters.'

The West Linn City Council might not agree with the new state law related to annexations but, for one night at least, it decided to abide by its true spirit.

The council voted unanimously Monday, June 18 to approve annexations and zoning changes at two adjacent properties on Weatherhill Road, thus opting against enacting the advisory vote that was put in place as an option after the 2016 Oregon Legislature mandated that annexation decisions be made by the governing body of a jurisdiction.

While an advisory vote was held for a different annexation at Bland Circle this past May (voters approved it by a large margin and the council will take action later this summer), the council determined that a vote wouldn't be necessary for these applications due to their status as "island" properties surrounded by city land and the absence of significant public pushback.

"This is still a very difficult decision for us, because our charter still says we would put this to voters, and the charter was written for and by the people," City Councilor Teri Cummings said.

The annexations are located at neighboring properties of 2.35 acres and 2.57 acres at 22864 and 22870 Weatherhill Road. The properties have two different owners who requested R-7 zoning, and in total the properties contain an estimated 22 lots.

Several members of the public testified before the council made its final decision, and just one voiced concerns about the properties. Resident Jeremy Rower, a neighbor of the 22870 Weatherhill Road property, said he worried about how new development — the expected end result of annexation — would impact schools, traffic and the environment in the neighborhood.

In the end, the council said land use concerns would be addressed if and when development applications are submitted to the City.

"We have pretty tight controls in West Linn for a lot of these issues, so City staff will be looking into it very carefully," City Council President Brenda Perry said.

Community grants approved

The council also voted Monday to approve the allocation of $25,000 in community grants, providing various levels of funding for groups like the West Linn Historical Society and several local events, including the Fourth of July fireworks show and a substance-free graduation party.

The Citizens' Budget Committee provided funding recommendations to the council, which were reviewed during a work session June 4. The council made some changes to the budget committee recommendation — most notably opting to provide $1,250 for the substance-free graduation party after the budget committee recommended no funding.

The full list of grant allocations is as follows:

West Linn Historical Society, $2,000

West Linn Community Chorus, $1,625

Friends of Maddax Woods, $1,000

July 4th Fireworks Event, $1,500

Oktoberfest, $500

Bridges to Change, $2,000

West Linn Lions: Shoes and Socks for Kids, $2,000

West Linn Food Pantry, $2,000

Creatures of the Night, $1,000

Community Living Above Oregon, $1,500

Music and Arts Partners, $1,500

West Linn Chamber of Commerce, $1,000

Substance Free Grad Night, $1,250

Friends of the McLean House, $750

Historic Willamette Main Street, $500

Youth Music Project, $1,000

West Linn Alliance for Inclusive Community, $1,750

West Linn Library Foundation, $2,125

New smoking, vaping ban OK'd

The council also voted to pass an ordinance banning smoking, vaping and tobacco use at City-owned or operated properties — including parks — that are open to the public.

"Cities throughout the Portland metropolitan area have joined forced to limit the negative effects that are created by smoking, vaping and the use of tobacco," Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester wrote in a memo. "Along with the related health issues, these effects also impact the beauty and cleanliness of public spaces, and pose the threats of fire."

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