|4/15/2014 1:17:00 PM|
Food restrictions headed to planning commission
At a City of Sisters town hall meeting Tuesday, a small group of local citizens reinforced their view that they would like to see "formula food" establishments restricted in both the highway commercial and downtown commercial areas. Current restrictions apply only to the highway commercial zones at either end of town.
The citizens that spoke were also unanimous in their support of a moratorium on new business permits for formula food restaurants until new code wording can be implemented.
The code adoption process can take two to three months to move through the planning commission and then on the city council for a final hearing and vote. Those who spoke at the town hall related their concern that a new and beautiful Cascade Avenue might attract a formula food restaurant that could apply and be approved before the new code was put into effect.
By City code, a formula food restaurant is, "An eating or drinking establishment that: (a) is required by contractual or other arrangements to offer standardized menus, ingredients, food preparation, employee uniforms, interior decor, signage or exterior design; or (b) adopts a name, appearance or food presentation format that causes it to be substantially identical to three or more other establishments regardless of ownership or location."
Under current regulations, there are no restrictions on formula food restaurants in the downtown commercial area other than a ban on drive-throughs. A Cibelli's, or a national chair like Denny's or Red Lobster could locate in the downtown commercial zone simply by applying.
Formula food restaurants are restricted in the highway commercial areas (FivePine and the Ray's/Bi-Mart area). Currently in these areas, a formula food restaurant with more than three location would not be permitted. The City planners had proposed to increase the number of permissible locations from three to 10 to allow for the siting of some "local chains." Based on citizen input from the February planning commission meeting, the City withdrew their request and sponsored the April 8 Town Hall.
Jen McCrystal, of Jen's Garden, said, "From my personal perspective I think there should be something congruent that covers the entire town. I don't think there should be two separate zones.
"I think that the image that we want to portray in this town doesn't depend on what zone you are in," continued McCrystal. "Anybody coming into town, what they see at one end of town should be the same on the other end of town."
Speaking to the three-location criteria, McCrystal said, "I think that three is somewhat limiting. I don't know if we need to go all the way to 10, but I think five or seven might be appropriate. One of the things that some of the business owners have been discussing is making Sisters a food destination. There is a big thing with dining travel now.
"I think we should grandfather in existing businesses. When we look at the timeline there needs to be something set up that says, in the interim, until we get the code decided there is a freeze on those type of businesses coming to town," McCrystal concluded.
The speakers that followed each agreed with and praised McCrystal's point of view.
Brian Jackson, of Martolli's Pizza said, "Sisters is a very unique town. I moved here 20 years ago to raise my kids. The street project is going to set a new tone. I believe that the uniqueness of restaurants, you don't want big chains because then you are just like everyone else. There is nothing unique about Sisters. It loses its whole appeal. We want to go more unique, not less, so people keep coming."
Ed Protas pointed out that, "Local-grown establishments return somewhere between four to seven times the amount of money (spent) into a local community. Purchases for a multinational like McDonald's or Burger King are all corporate-driven. Those dollars leave the community."
Bend mayor pro tem Jodi Barram was a surprise speaker. She said, "I'm a Bend City Council member and I don't want Sisters to be like Bend. Having grown up in Redmond and Bend, and coming to Sisters as a child and now as an adult, you are at an historic point. It is key that to make sure your establishments are attracting the business that you want, and that your community is growing and sensitive to your business community and residents."
Planning Commission Chair Alan Holzman and commission members Doug Roberts and Jeanne Fairman were in attendance, as were City Councilor Wendy Holzman and City Council President McKibben Womack.
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