New ordinance gives local vendors more options

Good news for fans of the farm-to-table movement: Lake Oswego has cleared the way for produce stands throughout the city.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved an ordinance to allow vendors to sell fruits and vegetables more widely throughout the city, largely in response to the near-closure of the Parsons Farms fruit and vegetable stand.

The stand had long operated at the corner of Kruse Way and Carman Drive, but with the recent sale of the property, the Parsons family found it impossible to set up shop anywhere else inside the city proper. The stand is open for too long each year to qualify for a temporary use permit, and neither "farm stand" nor "produce stand" are recognized as allowed use in any zone.

The new regulations grant primary and accessory use permits to farm stands in neighborhood commercial, general commercial and East End commercial zones. It would also allow the stands accessory use permits in office commercial, Foothills mixed use, and campus research and development zones.

To prevent too great of a concentration of farm stands in one area — and effectively, to prevent a pop-up farmers market — the ordinance limits the number of stands per site, and caps the size of each stand at 800 square feet.

“This would allow (produce stand vendors) to locate anywhere that's suitable to them, anywhere in the zones we designate,” Jessica Numanoglu, senior planner, told the council.

Planning director Scot Siegel said the new ordinance reflects a priority in the city’s comprehensive plan to grant the public greater access to local food.

Council member Donna Jordan suggested adding specific design standards for such stands, although council member Jon Gustafson warned against "out of control" regulations.

"It shouldn't be too hard to open a farm stand," Gustafson said. "No blue tarps, but other than that, we're cool."

The council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance, with an amendment to direct staff to explore adding the possibility of conditional use in public, park and natural areas.

Prior to the vote, Ashley Parsons of Parsons Farms thanked the council and the community for their support.

"It's been really hard not to open our stand for the first spring in 25 years, and the community has been feeling it as well," Parsons said.

"We are 100 percent in support of this code amendment," she added. "It would allow my family's business to always be a part of the community. It's life-changing for my family, and also for the community."

During the Tuesday meeting, the City Council also awarded a $3 million public contract to Kerry Contractors Oregon, Inc., for the Kerr Parkway Rehabilitation Project.

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