4/22/2014 1:43:00 PM Letters to the Editor 04/23/2014
To the Editor:
Not included in this article ("Council looks at land rezoning," The Nugget, April 16, page 16) is an important aspect of my revised proposal presented at the March planning commision hearing.
As the property sits today, up to 28 residential units are currently permitted within 15 feet of existing property lines of light-industrial businesses to the south. The modified proposal I presented at the March hearing included an extra 100-foot buffer between future residential and existing light-industrial uses to the south, creating an effective 115-foot "no-build" zone.
This compares quite favorably with the 15-foot building setback that exists today. I believe my revised proposal will help minimize future conflicts between future residents and existing businesses. I believe it is important for the community of Sisters to understand this important point, particularly in light of the stated concerns about possible future noise conflicts noted by several of the planning commission members at the March hearing.
To the Editor:
When process is well-thought-out and followed, people may not like the results but they do think they are real and honest. If the process isn't followed it is easy to wonder if there is undue influence or some lack of honesty.
I am troubled by the process followed around the zoning-change request from Peter Hall, aided by Peter Storton and apparently backed by the city manager and some on the council. These are specific issues:
1. The planning commission voted 5-0 and turned down the request two times. That is a very strong statement from the people who spent a lot of time with a lot of information. If a vote is close I can see the council being involved, but in this situation?
2. How can basic housing information change in a few days? This is perhaps the most troubling thing about the process. We know numbers can be presented in different ways, but this smacks of trying to have numbers that help a particular individual.
3. How can the city council say that we must right now have more housing when there are two new developments close to approval before the planning commission? Granted, they are not as large but this is not an emergency.
4. How can the city council say the planning commission erred because they have made a decision based on faulty numbers when the planning commission based their decision on the conflict with incompatible industrial uses (log-cutting and rock-crushing) with residential uses. That is real and factual and won't go away. It is exactly what the planning commission should be doing.
5. Many years ago when the city council moved the urban growth line to include these new industrial parks, homeowners close by were told that the city was required to set aside land for industrial development as part of the State-required planning process. Maybe I wasn't told the truth? It isn't easy to form good-sized industrial parks. Why would we eliminate this one when there are other potential residential development areas to meet that need?
To the Editor:
Even if your private health-insurance coverage is superb, you may be at great financial risk if you go to the emergency room at St. Charles Medical Center, Bend. St. Charles Bend allows their ER doctors (who are all subcontracted) to charge you whatever amount they wish in excess of what your health-insurance plan will pay. You are held personally responsible for the balance, and the sky is the limit.
Such practice is called balance billing. Here's how it works: The out-of-network ER doctor sends an exorbitant bill to your insurer, your insurer pays only what they deem to be reasonable and customary charges, and the doctor's billing service comes after you to pay the remainder of the bill.
Balance billing is illegal for Medicare billing, but the practice is totally unregulated when billing private insurance in Oregon, and it's condoned by St. Charles.
According to a recent article in the Bend Bulletin, all the doctors who work in St. Charles Bend's emergency department (collectively doing business as Central Oregon Emergency Physicians) don't accept insurance from Assurant Health, Lifewise, Providence Health Plan, HealthNet, Aetna, Cigna and others. Even if your insurer agrees to pay an out-of-network ER doctor at the higher in-network rate, you'll still have to pay out of your own pocket whatever arbitrary balance the doctor decides you owe them.
Here's the kicker: The ER doctor doesn't even need to see you in order to bill you. They only need to initial your medical file.
St. Charles could require its subcontracted ER doctors to accept in-network insurance payments as payment in full for their services. But St. Charles is afraid to rock the boat, preferring to stay in the good graces of these opportunistic doctors. It's profits before people, the Hippocratic oath be damned.
Connecting the dots. I like positive people, we all do. And, I try to look at situations and look for the positives in any given proposal. Here is an example: Creekside Park upgrade = jobs = higher school enrollment.
Here is how I "connect the dots" between these three areas.
1. The Creekside Park upgrade is brilliant. Here is a languishing asset that everyone has ignored for years. The city manager sees an opportunity for more city income. It used to be parks were free. No more - so an additional income to the city of $100,000-plus per year is possible (after paying back the upgrade cost of $250,000 on phase one).
To not do this is short-sighted. Sisters is surrounded by trees, so we cut down some to add income-producing locations. Regarding tenters vs. motor homes, who do you think will spend more money in town? A couple that pulls up in a $500,000 motor home or a couple in a car that pulls out a $200 REI tent? The Forest Service says there are lots of tent campsites within 10 miles of Sisters. And, I understand some tent camping sites will remain at Creekside Park.
2. Jobs: Next step - what do we do with the extra $100,000-plus? We could hire a full-time person at EDCO to promote Sisters for jobs. We could use the money to upgrade our Internet infrastructure to attract home-based tech companies with higher speeds/a broader band network, etc. What else could we use the money for?
3. School enrollment: Final step. If we can attract people because jobs are here, those people bring kids to our school system and the school budget increases.
Connect the dots.
I know this is a simplified example of connecting the dots. The point is, we need to be asking the right questions. In this case we should be asking what will we do with an extra $100,000 in city revenue and more $500,000-motorhome-tourists vs. don't change Creekside park because we need the trees and the REI tent campers!
In a way, everything is connected to everything else, and I suggest we look at the possibilities of an idea and dream a little and not be so quick to "shout everything down with a negative voice."
The future can be bright if we look at every situation from all angles and look for the opportunities and take a positive approach!
To the Editor:
How is ravaging 19 acres of forestland, burning thousands of gallons of gasoline and diesel, and causing permanent soil erosion and pollution a logical and effective way to combat climate change? It's not, however the Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) believes that their 7.6 mile trail to BBR is going to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The trail to BBR will add to the greenhouse effect, and increase the surface temperature of the earth.
This is because 19 acres of trees that provide us with invaluable oxygen will be clear-cut. Once the trees are cut they can no longer remove carbon dioxide from the air, and produce oxygen. In addition, tree loss causes soil erosion, making it harder for future trees and shrubbery to grow.
The actual production of the $2.8 million dollar trail will include the setting of a 12-foot wide paved path from Sisters to BBR. Countless barrels of diesel and gasoline will be required to run all of the heavy machinery involved, dispersing even more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Soil will also be contaminated by leaking machinery and cause further ecosystem disruption.
This path is also being marketed as a commuting option for BBR residents. This is highly unlikely as only 25 percent of BBR residents are full-time, and many are retired. This trail is purely for recreation, and doesn't fill any commuting needs.
The Sisters-to-BBR trail is expensive and won't reduce the amount of carbon-dioxide emissions produced by the greater Sisters area, and will actually add to the greenhouse effect. This is why I urge Sisters residents to attend the talk on climate change sponsored by the STA, and not to show support for the STA, but to question their agenda and paved trail ideas.