The Woodburn City Council held a public hearing last week to review changes to its development ordinance, the last of four significant rewrites that have been drafted over the past five years.

Overhauling outdated portions of the city’s development codebook has been one of Economic Development Director Jim Hendryx’s primary tasks since he first came under the city’s employ. He presented updates to the sign standards in 2010; revisions to the overall definitions and procedures in 2011, and an overhaul of the use and development standards in 2013 — all of which have been adopted and implemented by the council.

This year’s proposed changes concern planned unit developments (PUDs). The revisions were developed with the assistance of the Woodburn Planning Commission — which also held a public hearing on the matter and unanimously recommended their adoption.

Hendryx told the council at its June 23 meeting that the current regulations concerning PUDs in the city are somewhat rigid and, at times, difficult to understand, such that even routine projects often require variances and an in-depth regulatory process.

“One of the drawbacks is that they’re not much of an enticement to use the PUD to do a creative development,” Hendryx said.

He said the rewrite would allow for much greater clarity and flexibility, without losing the regulatory oversight of city staff and elected officials.

“It’s a lot more streamlined, but the discretionary process is still there,” he said.

If implemented, Hendryx said he expects the city would see an increase in the variety of housing units and developments that are available in Woodburn. He also expressed a hope that the simplified, clearer process would stimulate greater private investment and development in the area.

After the public hearing, during which no members of the community spoke for or against the changes, the council unanimously directed staff to prepare the revisions in the form of a resolution that may be reviewed and adopted later this month.

In other business, the council:

— Formally appointed Sarah Head as the city’s new finance director to replace Christina Shearer. Formerly a budget analyst for the city, Head had been recommended by the city administrator after panel interviews last month.

— Approved, following a public hearing, a request by Republic Services of Marion County-Woodburn for a 4-percent rate increase effective July 1. The change means an increase of between 50 cents and $1.50 in customers’ monthly rates, depending on the type of service they utilize.

— Approved the design review plans and zone change request by Deacon Development Group for the construction of the Arney Retail Center, located just south of Woodburn Premium Outlets.

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