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Code change would allow co-location of independent- and assisted-living facilities with nursing homes.

Washington County commissioners will broaden zoning to allow for a wider range of group housing for older people on the same site.

They have set Sept. 5 for a first hearing on an ordinance that would expand beyond nursing homes to include co-located independent- and assisted-living centers, under the heading of "retirement communities."

The planning commission endorsed it Aug. 2, and the ordinance has support from the Fair Housing Council of Oregon and Housing Land Advocates.

A staff report to the planning commission said:

"Communities that provide a continuum of care for seniors have been inconsistently classified in Washington County development applications, and are not clearly permitted uses in some land use districts in the community development code."

Senior planner Kim Armstrong told county commissioners Tuesday (Aug. 22) that one impetus for the change stemmed from a 2016 proposal by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon to expand beyond its current nursing home in Beaverton. The home, founded in 1963, has a total of 181 beds — 16 of which are designated for memory care for patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Armstrong said the current ordinance does not provide for other continuum of care options, such as independent and assisted living, in the same location.

The county has a number of stand-alone projects that are allowed under the current zoning code.

According to the 2014 Population Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, 11 percent of Washington County residents are age 65 and older — but the share of people age 60 and older is the fastest-growing segment.

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