Citizens should have a voice in land use decisions
To the editor:
A notice was recently mailed out by the City of Molalla regarding a proposed project at 118 N. Cole. The proposed project is an apartment triplex building that is surrounded by single-family homes.
In an attempt to "have your cake and eat it, too" the applicant has a single-family residence on their lot located at 118 N. Cole and they desire to place a triplex apartment building in the area that used to be the back yard of the single-family home. The proposed outcome is that the existing home stays, and in their back yard they have a triplex apartment building.
The Molalla Municipal Code standards require a triplex to have at least .25 acres to be built on. The parcel size is .22 acres and inadequate for the proposed use. In square footage terms the site is 8.9% too small to accommodate the apartment triplex building.
The notification letter from the City of Molalla has interesting information on it. As Molalla area residents will recall, we had an extreme fire scare worse than anyone can remember the week of Sept. 7. As part of a Level 3 evacuation, residents departed their homes to stay safe and follow orders. The city's notification letter indicates a date of Sept. 4 and allows for a 10-day comment period ending on Sept. 14.
The letter, postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service in Portland, has a date stamp of Sept. 18, therefore adequate notification was not given to a 300-foot radius of the 118 N. Cole property. (After the fire scare, the worst we've seen in Molalla, it is proposed that a large building is placed very closely to surrounding structures? Insurance rates go up when this occurs for all properties nearby.)
It should be noted that previously this type of land use decision would be brought before the Planning Commission. However, at the Dec. 11, 2019, City Council meeting, the planning staff presented to the city a new process that would not require land use changes, such as the property at 118 N. Cole, to be brought before a public body like the Planning Commission.
This is important because during public hearings the existing residents get to voice their concerns. This process was changed and adopted by the City Council to let planning staff make the land use decisions. There were six key communication points that need to be followed when planning staff makes a land use decision, and the six key points have not been followed.
(Dec. 11 council meeting) The applicable Comprehensive Plan Citizen Involvement goal is:
5. The city shall provide for a wide range of public involvement in city planning programs and processes. The city should:
5.1 Provide user-friendly information to assist the public in participating in city planning programs and processes, including available sources of media ranging from television (when available and free), radio (when available and free), Internet, newspapers, mailings and meetings to provide for the highest involvement from citizens.
5.2 Provide information for public review while it is still in "draft" form, thereby allowing for community involvement before decisions are made.
5.3 Provide for early public involvement to address neighborhood or community concerns regarding Comprehensive Plan and Development Code changes.
5.4 Provide data to interested citizens in non-technical and understandable terms.
5.5 Adopt procedures to allow interested parties reasonable access to information on which public bodies will base their land use planning decisions.
5.6 Provide data in a manner that is simple enough to give the public an opportunity to understand the issues. This includes technical data submitted by other parties.
The indicated process of informing residents based on these six key objectives has not been fulfilled.
Here are the concerns with the proposed development that caring Molalla Citizens should know about. Additionally, a new project needs to adhere to the Municipal Code.
The proposed development contrasts significantly with the surrounding properties. Not only is the proposed structure a triplex apartment building, but it is on a small lot, .22 acres, below the minimum standard of .25 acres. (8.9% too small in terms of available lot area square footage).
The property at 118 N. Cole was subdivided into two lots in February 2020. No adjacent homeowners in the area were notified about the subdivided back yard.
The proposed development contrasts significantly with the surrounding properties which are each single-family detached homes. The 118 N. Cole property used to contain one home. It will now have one home and a triplex building on it. (Adjacent homeowners should see a tool shed being built in a neighboring back yard this size, not a triplex apartment building.)
Each of the neighbor's properties have a two-car garage and some have a three-car garage. The proposed property has a small single-car garage and small one-car driveway. This is inadequate parking for three apartment residences. Additionally, each apartment residence in the proposed triplex is under 1,300 square feet. This is much smaller than the surrounding homes. And the lot size is insufficient to accommodate a triplex.
The entire block is Zoned R-2, and this lot will be one of the smallest on the entire block, yet it will house the only triplex on the entire block. The lot is simply too small to accommodate this use.
Caring citizens for a better Molalla, this development should be looked at in context of the notes made above. The voice of existing residents should be heard. Land use decisions of this type should not be left to the discretion of an associate planner. Please put yourselves in the shoes of the adjacent homeowners and think of whether the proposed apartment triplex is consistent with adjacent uses.
Three candidates best best for Canby Council seats
To the editor:
Your vote matters in local races and this election, the Canby City Council race is a good reason to vote down-ballot. Three candidates — Sarah Spoon, Jason Padden, and Christopher Bangs — deserve your vote. Their backgrounds demonstrate dedication to making our town a vibrant, thriving, and welcoming place to live. Spoon and Padden both have prior council experience. Their common vision includes creating more park space and enhancing opportunities for small businesses in Canby.
During her current term, Spoon voted to prevent big corporations from shirking obligations to support our city services.
Bangs has spent his career at Canby High School and would put expertise teaching civics into practice. All three are active volunteers in the community, respect diverse viewpoints and want to ensure all residents have a voice in Canby's future.Contrast this with the other candidates, who have allowed endorsements and thousands of dollars from a special-interest PAC to infiltrate a small-town race. These outside funds raise serious concerns about these candidates' ability to exercise balanced judgement on City Council.For City Council candidates who care about Canby, vote for Spoon, Padden, and Bangs, by Nov. 3.
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