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Barring an appeal, the City Council vote ends public use of the historic site

TIGARD - City Council members - minus Mayor Craig Dirksen - were deadlocked at their Dec. 12 meeting in a 2 to 2 vote.


The issue was whether or not to approve a development code amendment allowing public events as a conditional use in properties with a historic overlay designation and/or on the National Register of Public Places.

Waiting for the decision was Dan Quello, who with his wife Jacque had pushed for the amendment so they could hold public gatherings at their 1906 Victorian house on 92nd Avenue. The couple, who purchased the house 16 years ago, used to hold outdoor weddings and other paid events until they were denied a conditional-use permit in 2000.

In August, Dan Quello approached the council about obtaining a conditional-use permit to rent the house and 2-plus acres to offset some of their expenses in restoring and maintaining the property.

City staff came up with an amendment that would allow up to 18 events per year, with a maximum of 40 people at 12 events and 200 at six events, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. with no outdoor amplification.

A number of the Quellos' neighbors protested the proposal at the Nov. 20 Planning Commission meeting, and that group voted unanimously not to recommend it to the council.

Nearly a month later, both sides had rounded up more supporters to plead their case before the council.

'One sentence sums it up - a community needs places for people to assemble and celebrate special events,' Dan Quello said. 'Based on nothing more than the number of requests we receive each year, (there is a large demand for this). Hundreds of people enjoy stepping back into history.'

Quello suggested revising the proposal to allow four events per quarter, for example, to allay neighbors' fears that all of the outdoor events would take place in the summer.

'Our events are extremely tasteful and well done,' he said. 'We worked hard for 16 years to restore one of Tigard's treasures, and we would like to use it and open it up for the public's enjoyment.'

Among Quello's supporters was Bob Neithammer, whose daughter was married on the grounds, and next-door neighbor Dan Mitchell, who both said that events at Tigard High School and in Cook Park were far noisier than ones at the Quello House.

Cindee Lehmann, Jenni Legg and Mark Dahm all spoke in favor of allowing the house to be used for public events.

Dan Murphy of the Broadway Rose Theatre Company, which held a 'cultivation' party there last summer, said, 'This is a valuable part of Tigard. Usually we hold (our events) outside the city.'

When the opponents were allowed to speak, Cheryl Cappelli, Mike Brewin and Richard Smith all argued against allowing a conditional use, and Dan Manghelli, who lives behind the Quellos, said public use of the house is not compatible with the residential neighborhood.

David Otis said, 'I want to be able to enjoy my backyard,' and Larry Galizio said, 'This is not a county fairgrounds. This would change (the property) into a county fairgrounds. Will the city create a new staff position for code compliance (for weekend events)?'

Although city staff recommended that the amendment be approved, Councilor Sydney Sherwood said, 'I'm not in favor of overturning the Planning Commission's unanimous vote against it.'

Councilor Tom Woodruff said, 'It saddens me that they couldn't reach a compromise that is compatible with everyone's point of view. I'm taken aback by the vociferousness of the neighbors. I don't know if there is a solution to the noise and sight problems.'

Councilor Sally Harding pointed out that 'there are very few jewels left in our community' and that using it 18 days out of 365 was less than 5 percent of the time.

'I wish there was a way to make this part of the community,' she said. 'Even if you eliminate the Quello House, you still have the school and the park.'

Council President Nick Wilson told the council, 'It's not evil to want to make money, and this would be an opportunity for the general public to use it.'

He suggested that the proposed ordinance could be re-written to allow fewer events and people.

Sherwood moved to follow the Planning Commission's recommendation to not approve the ordinance, but no one seconded it.

After more discussion, her second motion was seconded, and she and Woodruff voted to not approve the ordinance, while Wilson and Harding voted to approve it.

'We need a motion that will pass,' Wilson said. 'I'll change my vote and go with the Planning Commission recommendation.'

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