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Update to Estacada's comprehensive plan creates development designations for business, residential areas

PMG PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - The new The Mill Area Mixed Use zone applies to the area surrounding the former Park Lumber Mill along Highway 224 and will potentially bring a greater variety of options to the site.

Six new land development zones are an element of an update to the city of Estacada's comprehensive plan.

City councilors unanimously approved the updates to the comprehensive plan and plan map, zoning map and the municipal code during a meeting on Monday, Feb. 24.

Prior to the City Council's approval, the Estacada Planning Commission approved the changes at their meeting on Thursday, Jan. 9.

The process of creating updates to the comprehensive plan began 18 months ago and included an economic opportunity analysis; a housing analysis; a study of the plans already in place for Estacada and neighboring jurisdictions; and public consultation including meetings, an open house and surveys, along with a local advisory committee.

"When it became clear that our (comprehensive) plan chapters were out of date, the state of Oregon requires that interested stakeholders and residents are involved in that process," said Matt Lorenzen, Estacada's economic development manager.

A series of new zones

Many of the updates to Estacada's comprehensive plan focus on economic development and housing, including the creation of six new zones for development. There are five new employment land zones: Mill Area Mixed Use, Riverfront Commercial, Highway Commercial, Central Mixed Use and Outdoor Commercial.

The Mill Area Mixed Use zone applies to the area surrounding the former Park Lumber Mill, which spans 50 acres near Highway 224. The new zone allows "the area to be developed with a wider range of potential uses, including breweries, mixed commercial and residential uses, and even school facilities," while heavy industrial uses are now prohibited.

The Riverfront Commercial zone applies to approximately 28 acres south of Timber Park between the Clackamas River and Highway 224.

"The Planning Commission recommends reprioritizing the area for businesses that promote local tourism and history, outdoor recreation, and the use of adjacent park facilities, the river, and existing and planned multi-use trails," the ordinance states, also noting that lawfully established industrial uses that were in the area prior to Dec. 1, 2019, will be allowed to remain.

The Highway Commercial zone applies to 53 acres surrounding Highway 224 and will focus on commercial uses that do not fit downtown. Examples mentioned in the ordinance include larger grocery stores, automobile service stations,

hotels, nurseries and drive thrus.

"The proposed policies for the H-C designation would also encourage aesthetic measures to be taken to ensure that new development along the highway doesn't detract from the more natural character of the area today," the ordinance states. "The policies, would, for example, obligate the city to have certain signage and landscaping standards that would help prevent the area from being cluttered with billboards and devoid of natural elements."

The Outdoor Commercial zone applies to a vacant 36.5 acre area north of Southeast River Mill Road on the east side of Highway 224.

"While this area is currently planned for light industrial development, its narrow width, topography, wetlands, lack of highway access, and proximity to residential uses make it unsuitable for such development," the ordinance states. "(The Outdoor Commercial zone) would establish policies allowing the area to be used for trails and boardwalks, but also campgrounds, while requiring commercial uses to be partially screened with natural elements."

The Central Mixed Use zone focuses on facilitating multifamily housing and services in the area south of Southeast River Mill Road and north of the mill site. While there would be no new detached single family homes, the area would allow buildings to combine certain business uses with multifamily residential options.

"Those policies would allow for land uses such as medical offices, banks, barber shops, day care facilities and smaller restaurants, but also duplexes, cottage clusters and multi-family dwellings," the ordinance states. "The location and existing nearby uses, as well as the existing and planned utility services, make it one of the best areas within the UGB for new multifamily housing."

Similar to the Central Mixed Use designation, a new residential zone will also allow for a greater variety of options for housing. The North City Residential zone reserves 155.53 acres of land bordered by the outdoor commercial zone and Duus Road for housing. The location was previously designated for light industrial development; however, the 2019 Estacada Economic Opportunity Analysis "demonstrates that the city doesn't need this area to meet its 20-year industrial land need."

Expanding housing options

Both Lorenzen and Estacada City Planner Taylor Campi noted that one significant element of the code updates is the potential for a greater variety of housing options in Estacada.

"Both (the Economic Opportunity analysis and the Housing Analysis) informed not only the need to nuance our code and make sure that it is effectively encouraging the type of development we want to see, but that it also allows for the type of housing that there's this lack of, not only in Estacada but regionally as well," Lorenzen said.

Though Estacada has many single family homes, options for multifamily housing such as apartments, condominiums and cottage clusters are less abundant.

"It's not just what we are lacking now, but also what we need in the future," Campi said, citing the housing needs of older adults and millenials. "Millennials tend to have different housing needs and prefer smaller households. So those demographic shifts are also being accounted for in those housing types that are being newly allowed."

Development code amendments

City councilors also approved several amendments to the Estacada development code. Some of them are:

Allowing screened outdoor storage on certain industrial properties

Allowing licensed footcarts to be placed on surfaces that are made of solid and smooth pavement, concrete or pavers, and allowing portable toilets for food carts. The latter will be subject to standards.

Adopting a Downtown Estacada pre-approved paint palette, in which buildings will be required to adhere to the new requirements when they are proposing a change, and existing colors would otherwise be permitted. The paint palette includes more than 180 options.

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