A public hearing on the violation was held in early November before the Planning Commission, where it was decided that Newton would get 60 days to fix the violation before he could be fined
A property owned by Warrenton City Commissioner Rick Newton was flagged by the city after he accepted infill from a city-approved construction project.
During the summer, Big River Construction removed the infill from a road reconstruction project on S.W. Alder Avenue, and after communicating with Newton, dumped it at his property on First Avenue. Newton and his girlfriend, co-owner Patty Cardinaletti, had planned to build housing units on the lot.
There was some confusion on what the material was actually supposed to be, Scott Hazelton, the city’s planning director, said. It was interpreted by the building official that it was going to be gravel only — that it was going to be waste rock on the property — and not the mud, silt, sand, everything that is there now.
After the activity on his property, the city reached out to Newton with a stop-work order and requests for stormwater and erosion control plans, but received neither, said Hazelton, who added that a lack of communication from Newton was at the core of the issue.
Newton claims he spoke with the building official and the Public Works Department several times throughout the situation. He feels he was given the wrong direction.
A public hearing on the violation was held in early November before the Planning Commission, where it was decided that Newton would get 60 days to fix the violation before he could be fined.
Shortly after that decision, heavy rains caused flooding on adjacent properties, which city planning staff attribute to the infill activity.
With fixing the flooding problem is the main concern, Hazelton appealed the Planning Commission’s ruling. It will go before the City Commission on Tuesday.
Hazelton acknowledged that Newton has made an extensive effort to pump water off the property when it rains, but said, ‘at that point, it’s a reaction to the problem and not a proactive solution.’
Newton believes he is not at fault for the flooding. He plans to present evidence to the City Commission that the removal — by the city — of a drainage ditch in front of his property was the reason for the significant flooding. He added that his lot was always higher than adjacent properties, not because of the infill.
A developer is planning to haul the fill off his property, he said, and he no longer wants to build housing units there.
Since he received the infill as a gift, Newton is also under scrutiny for accepting it as an elected official. When the City Commission voted on the road reconstruction project, Newton abstained because he owned property along the street and said it would benefit him.
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