News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Letters to the Editor 2/08/2023

Development moratorium

To the Editor:

On September 22, 2021 the Sisters Comprehensive Plan was adopted, resulting in a set of updated goals, policies, and implementation measures that are intended to guide decisions about future growth and development in Sisters. As stated in the introduction of the Plan, “it can be summarized ‘Growth with Intention.’ This will guide us to maintain Sisters’ unique quality of life, mitigate the effects of growth, and absorb it the Sisters way, maintain our special community character, and continue to diversify housing options.”

The Plan is supposed to provide a foundation for decision-making on important issues and reflect the community’s values. This is not happening.

Chapter 2.3 (multifamily district) in the Development Code has been updated, which doubles the density in a MFR (multi-family residence) to 15-30 gross units per acre and decreases the square footage for a detached single family by 1,500 square feet. The only way this increase in density supports the Comprehensive Plan is for Chapter 3.2 (Landscaping & Screening) to be updated with open-space requirements also being increased proportionately.

If this does not happen, then we are moving further away from our goals in the Comprehensive Plan. Envision Sunset Meadows with twice the units, and the same amount of open space. Families and children on the northwest side of town are underserved with parks/open spaces (athletic fields are for organized sports) and now it will be made even more so if adjustments are not made.

I propose a moratorium on all new development relating to multifamily/residential districts until, at a minimum, code 3.2 is updated to reflect our Comprehensive Plan goals.

If there is not a pause in development, we will end up with a Sisters we don’t want to live in and in a constant struggle over whether the code(s) are good for all. Bottom line is that it’s all about the codes. Citizens need to be outspoken, active, and heard in code updates if we want Sisters to remain Sisters.

Cathy Russell

Cascade changes

To the Editor:

As a 30-year resident of Sisters, I was dismayed to read of the potential “changes” coming to Cascade Avenue (Nugget, February 1).

This seems a nail in the coffin for any feeling of small-town charm and beauty.

Are the city government, the Community Development Department, the planning commission and the developer, Stephen Williams, so blinded by dollars that they don’t see how totally out of character and out of proportion an eight- tower, 16-pump gas station and 3,500-square-foot “convenience” store would be in Sisters? Do Bend or Redmond, cities many times larger than Sisters, even have stations this big? Not only would this increase congestion at an already busy spot on the highway (ingress, egress, and turns from the westbound lane), but it would create light and noise pollution for the patrons of Left Coast Lodge; increased traffic in adjacent neighborhoods, including Pine Meadow; and noise and exhaust pollution for people sitting outside at High Desert Chocolate, Spoons, and Sno Cap.

Additionally, we would lose two small businesses, C&C Nursery and Richard’s Farmstand, which we all look forward to come spring/summer.

It seems unlikely they would be able to relocate in town.

Would it be another step toward elimination of the wildlife we enjoy see in town periodically? Would it lead to the demise of the two gas stations already in town, creating two empty, hard-to-rehab sites on our main street? Sisters needs more small shops and restaurants characteristic of our desired “vibe,” not a huge gas station as the west entrance to town.

Is this to be our new west portal: “Welcome to Sisters, we’re all about cars, pollution, and prepackaged snack food?” I sincerely hope not.

Ann Thompson

Transgender issues

To the Editor:

As a former teacher, I’ve read with great dismay the recent uproar over the issue of nonbinary

and transgender kids! The fears, anxiety, and open hostility expressed by adults, not children, is identical to what we heard in the 1960s and ’70s and around gay and lesbian folks “coming out” to the public, although having existed since the advent of humans!

Science, familiarity, and education have led most of the world to acknowledge the reality that human beings cannot be assigned to limited categories, roles, or physiological makeup. However, some few countries and individuals sadly still reject any perceived “differentness” as threatening, and even criminal. We now know, through research, that some animal species are dual-gendered, can change genders as they age or adapt, and where males bear the offspring. Not all living beings fit narrow categories!

Thankfully, the majority of our world population has accepted and embraced gay and lesbian marriage, adoptions, employment, and friendship without any attached stigma.

Our favorite female cousin has a wife; I’ve taught with and been a student of numerous LGBTQ adults; we have friends whose first daughter was born with both gender physiologies; my dear friend’s granddaughter has struggled through a transgender identity, and we’ve learned to say “they.” We certainly count friends in our wide circle who don’t fit traditional categories, and none of us has ever cared about or discussed each other’s sex lives! Over the years, we have read countless stories of anti-gay adults whose eyes opened and acceptance occurred when they met and became acquainted with those they had rejected, finding them to be just regular people!

So kudos to the Tamarack director, Charlie Anderson, and middle school principal, Tim Roth, for standing firm that all kids need support, acceptance, and are struggling to find their paths, already tough enough for just being teenagers! Those adults so fearful of imaginary threats could benefit from diversity education, which kids seem to flow with so much more readily when it is offered.

The GLSEN Research Institute ( Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network) has produced and offers all kinds of inclusive diversity resources for educators, administrators, and leaders who work with kids, and even Title IX has expanded guidance and protection for transgender and nonbinary youth.

Education is vital to reducing fears, rejection, and damaging stigmatizing of folks who had no choice in their genetic makeup at birth.

It is our job to step up, speak out and embrace, while learning how to say “they” along with “he” or “she.”

Wendie Vermillion

No need for bigger gas station

To the Editor:

You have got to be kidding! A 16-pump gas station overtaking the four pumps there now, at Space Age? I drive by Space Age several times a week and have seldom seen all four pumps in use. Frequently, there are no cars there at all being serviced. Sisters has three other gas stations: Chevron, 76, and Sinclair, and there is absolutely no need for a 16-pump monster on West Cascade Avenue or anyplace else in Sisters.

If this request is approved, what a sickening, pathetic way to say Welcome to Downtown Sisters to our many visitors from the west.

But what’s really scary is The Nugget’s front-page headline on February 1, 2023: “Changes coming to Cascade Avenue.” It sounds like it’s a done deal. The headline does not say, “Changes may be coming to Cascade Avenue.” Sue Stafford has been your correspondent for many years working the City Hall beat. Does she suspect that the fix is in?

Jim Cline

Too much growth

To the Editor:

The recent issue of The Nugget, February 1, contained multiple articles about the growth of Sisters and the lack of affordable housing, as well as letters which lamented the rapid overgrowth of Sisters.

Most alarming was the article “Sisters on the radar for employers.” Mr. Eckert, who designed the now infamous Woodlands development, says that Bend is “completely built out” for the kinds of business development that could be brought to Sisters.

So, now that Bend has been ruined in many ways by excessive development, he wants to bring those woes to Sisters. So, what is it they don’t understand about “No”? Their obsession with development and wealth is disgusting. Why is growth assumed to be the norm?

Many citizens do not want this in Sisters. There were five letters to the editor this week expressing extreme concern about the path Sisters is following. If someone doesn’t start listening to us, it will be too late.

Sharon Booth

Heavens declare the glory of God

To the Editor:

Living in Sisters, we often have those dark, cloudless nights when we can look to the heavens and be amazed at the multitude of heavenly bodies. But those stars, planets, and our own moon have given us a means by which to navigate between two points of travel. Referred to as celestial navigation, its origin dates back as far as 4,000 years. Traveling across land was primarily a matter of direction. Navigating the vast sea was more complex and dangerous, with errors in calculation, wind, and sea currents resulting to lengthen voyage at best, or disaster at worse. Over time and accumulation of data, improved maps, and advanced sextants, celestial navigation improved significantly.

I can personally testify to heaven’s declaration, experienced as a tactical navigator in the Navy’s P3A/B aircraft over a 30-year period. To get a perspective, think of our earth’s size as the head of a pin in relation to vastness of space, where stars are hundreds of light-years away, but can be used to locate where we are on the head of that pin.

When flying over the Indian Ocean, nighttime, 625 miles from nearest land, no radar contact, no radio navigation aides, the inertial system is drifting, and our position is questionable; celestial location was the only option left to determine aircraft actual position. Variables include the earth moving in orbit and rotating on its axis, a crosswind at 75 mph, coriolis effect, magnetic variation, and aircraft moving at 300+ mph (off course?). Thanks to great training all those factors could be accounted for in calculating necessary settings for the sextant. The chosen three stars are ideally 120 degrees apart, and provide three lines of position that will intersect to give a fix position.

The aircraft sextant is a complex mechanical “periscope” that is inserted into an access hole above the navigator (Google P3 orion sextant). On numerous occasions after difficult and long 10-plus-hour flights, we landed safely, once again having actually experienced the “Heavens Declare the Glory of God.”

Jeff Mackey


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