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A resolution amending city documents to require large residential annexations to include R-3 land is continued

Words are a part of everyday life. They define, describe and can be interpreted in various ways. When it comes to defining an amendment to a legal document, the need for a clear and concise description of the writer's intended meaning is vitally important for future interpretations.

In the case of a resolution amending the texts of the city's comprehensive plan and municipal code to require large residential annexations or urban growth boundary expansions to include R-3 multi-family residential land, the need to define the words "large" and "some" came into play. Although the Newberg City Council adopted the resolution it requested that city staff define the terms before a council meeting set for April 2. The first reading passed council muster and a second reading is set for May 7.

"The planning commission spent some time trying to define 'large' and 'some,'" Community Development Director Doug Rux said.

The council reached consensus, determining that: the net size of the parcel, after subtracting for stream corridors, should be used instead of the gross size; the size of the annexation or urban growth boundary amendment application is based on the aggregate size of all the parcels in the application and not on the size of the individual parcels; the threshold for "large" should be set at 15 net acres; and "some" should be defined as 10 percent of the net size of the application.

The change to the city code will indicate the city should encourage an adequate supply of multi-family housing dispersed throughout the city to meet the needs of multi-family. Also, where large residentially parcels or groups of parcels are to be brought into the urban growth boundary and designated low or medium density residential, the city shall apply a mixture of residential designations to include some high density residential-designated lands, consistent with the policy of distributing multi-family housing throughout the community. Such designations should be applied to portions of the property that are most suitable for high density development.

Caring for community members suffering hardships, such as a loss of well water, was a topic of concern because with the new definition for annexations, terms such as "renters" and "affordable housing" were eliminated to the alarm of some council members.

"I know that we have done this in the past based on the hardship recommendation for some persons, particularly in the west and southwest (part of the city)," Councilor Stephen McKinney said. "We know that you don't want to get into that tonight, but I am asking a question now that may happen down the road. Have we complicated the process to take care of what we have referred to hardship cases in the past? In other words, taking care of the adjoining neighbors?"

"We've had discussions from people whose wells have run dry. If you're going to get city services, you need to annex into the city." Rux responded. "If property owner X owns five acres and their well went bad and they need water and they are lower than 15 acres, they can apply for annexation. If they are more than 15 acres they have to go through this step."

"I'm still having a problem with this because it will increase cost because of more studies and it makes the project more expensive," Councilor Scott Essin said. "We are trying to make housing more affordable. Affordable housing is a real consideration. Is there something that we can do so that the developers will be able to have development and affordable housing?"

"This is the proposal that changes the comprehensive plan and development code and not the building code. The building code regulates how you physically build," Rux replied. "This is one piece on a multi-piece puzzle that we are working on. We will be talking about accessory dwelling units, there are different things that are going on at the same time addressing the issue of housing affordability."

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