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Business zoning changes revealed for Brooklyn

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Southeast District Liaison Marty Stockton answers questions about potential zoning changes in the Brooklyn neighborhood.The Brooklyn neighborhood may soon see new businesses moving in to serve their community. That’s what city planners said, at the “Brooklyn Station Areas” Open House, held in the Sacred Heart Villa Community Room on May 15.

City officials were showing drawings, and answering questions, regarding draft recommendations which include potential zoning changes along S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, Holgate Boulevard, and a few other areas. They also provided a list of draft projects to be be forwarded for the Transportation System Plan’s update process.

“This open house is to share information about the project that has been in process for the last four months,” explained City of Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability City Planner Diane Hale.

“It’s a smaller project – to look at changes we can make here to benefit the Brooklyn neighborhood, and also to take advantage of the new TriMet Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail investment that is coming in.”

One of the big outcomes for the project, Hale said, is the long-term desire of Brooklyn area residents to have more commercial uses in the area. “For example, little restaurants, shops, dry cleaners, a small grocery – not a ‘big-box’ store. It’d mean more local neighborhood services that folks from within the neighborhood would use.

“We think changing zoning might encourage these kinds of business. It certainly would allow them – rather than prohibit them,” Hale continued.

The current zoning along the stretch of S.E. Milwaukie Ave between Center Street and Holgate Boulevard has been residentially zoned for quite some time, the planner said.

“We are proposing to change that to what we call a Neighborhood Commercial zone, since there are several businesses that are already in operation along this stretch of Milwaukie Avenue. But their current non-conforming status present the owners difficulties making upgrades. One thing this zone change would do would be to allow these upgrades, helping the merchants to stay here and prosper. And it would open up new spaces for commercial uses as well.”

One of the ongoing challenges is, Hale pointed out, is how to create these small commercial districts where residential and commercial uses are close together. “The question is how to make them compatible, and blend well. This is could be in terms of height and style, but it could also be in terms of traffic and parking issues.

“The benefit you have living near businesses is having great access,” Hale pointed out. “But there are some potential negative impacts to be mitigated as well. For example, neighbors do not want very high structures next to residences. So, we revised the proposal, and propose lower height limits for new commercial buildings, now.”

Along S.E. 17th Avenue, the plan encourages employment-oriented transit uses, such as office space, and smaller flex-type space uses such as are in the Central Eastside area.

Final recommendations will eventually be wrapped into the Comprehensive Plan Update process for consideration.

For more, visit the project online: www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/brooklynstationareas .