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home : business : business May 24, 2016

4/15/2014 1:35:00 PM
Council looks at land rezoning
By John Griffith

After losing two rounds before the Sisters Planning Commission, developer Peter Hall, aided by Realtor Peter Storton, got some encouragement from the Sisters City Council in Thursday's council workshop session.

Two councilors expressed their preliminary support for the conversion of the Three Sisters Business Park from light-industrial zoning to residential.

There will be a council hearing on this issue on Thursday, April 24.

In February, Hall made his proposal to the planning commission to change the zoning of his 16-acre parcel at the north end of Pine Street from light-industrial to low-density residential. Hall wants to combine this land with an existing 12 acres to the north that is already zoned residential to allow for the construction of 100 to 130 single-family homes.

Despite City Planner Eric Porter's staff report recommendation that the commission approve the request, first in February and again in March, the commissioners recommended to the city council that the proposal be rejected.

The primary basis for the planning commission rejection appeared to be the risk of noise conflicts that could occur by placing single family homes right next to noisy existing light-industrial operations such a log-cutting and rock-crushing.

In both the planning commission hearings and the city council workshop presentation there was a lot of discussion about available inventory of light-industrial land and the inventory of single-family building lots.

In terms of available inventories, the data presented in the city council workshop was significantly different from that presented at both planning commission hearings.

The city councilors heard that there is only a three-year inventory of single-family home-building lots, and a 50-year inventory of light industrial land. Porter noted that a lot of new information had been discovered between the March planning commission meeting and the April city council meeting.

A new four-page spreadsheet comparing light industrial zoning, to North Sisters Business Park and downtown commercial was also handed out at the meeting by City Manager Andrew Gorayeb.

In contrast, those at the planning commission meetings heard very different and often conflicting inventory analysis from those addressing the commission. Citizens frequently challenged the staff report numbers.

At the conclusion of Thursday's discussion Mayor Brad Boyd said, "I don't like to go against the planning commission, but I am leaning in favor of what you guys are proposing. We will have a hearing, we will take testimony, and then we can accept, deny or remand (to the planning commission)."

Boyd continued, "I think we are served as a community much better by having our land developed whether it is people living there or business there than the land sitting there as sagebrush. I applaud your desire to change things up and to come and talk to us."

Councilor Wendy Holzman said, "I'm feeling very frustrated because it sounds like the planning commission was given completely different information than we are now getting tonight. Generally speaking I feel like the planning commission is the group that has spent more time on this and focuses on it. I feel very uncomfortable coming in ... and changing a decision that the planning commission has already voted on."

Councilor McKibben Womack said, "I kind of like the proposal. This is a side of town that really doesn't have any life. It is like what we are trying to do with Adams, re-designating so that residential can come in there and maybe that brings some life into that part of town. My main concern was do we have enough industrial, and it looks like we do. But we don't have enough residential."

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014
Article comment by: Peter Hall

Developer's comment- Not included in this article is an important aspect of my revised proposal presented at the March PC hearing. As the property sits today, up to 28 residential units are currently permitted within 15' of existing property lines of light industrial businesses to the south. The modified proposal I presented at the March hearing included an extra 100' buffer between future residential and existing light industrial uses to the south, creating an effective 115' "no build" zone. This compares quite favorably with the 15' 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.

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