Troutdale nixes zoning changes, blocks apartments
A developer's second attempt to gain approval to build apartments at a busy Troutdale intersection has been rejected by the town's City Council.
But it's likely this isn't the last anyone has heard of this project, which likely will move on to the State Land-Use Board of Appeals.
The Troutdale City Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday, June 12, to tentatively deny an application from Sheldon Development for a comprehensive plan map amendment, zoning map amendments and two variances for two properties totaling 8.82 acres at the intersection of Northeast 242nd Drive and Southwest Cherry Park Road. Councilors Rich Allen and Zach Hudson voted against the resolution.
The rejection is tentative because councilors who voted to deny the zoning changes must submit written justification citing relevant planning statutes before the decision can be finalized, said Chris Damgen, Troutdale Community Development director. There's also is a good chance the council's decision will be reviewed by LUBA to examine the reasons why the application was denied.
If LUBA finds insufficient evidence to support denial, the matter will be sent back to the council to reconsider the zoning alterations.
The zoning alterations would have allowed the developer to build a 216-unit apartment complex at an empty lot where a strawberry stand operates in the summer. This is the second time Sheldon Development has applied for a zoning variance for that area. In 2016 a similar proposal was denied by the council.
The council's latest meeting was packed with people speaking mostly in opposition to zone changes. Tetimony for an against lasted for about three hours. Two people spoke in favor of the proposal.
Every time a citizen spoke against the change, the audience applauded. Those opposed cited traffic concerns, enrollment increases to the Reynolds School District and a negative impact to home values. Councilors cited similar concerns before rejecting the measure.
Councilor David Ripma noted the council rejected a similar proposal two years ago, so why should they pass it now?
"We did this just a couple of years ago, and we're falling all over ourselves again. We turned down this change then, and nothing has changed very much."
Mayor Casey Ryan, who voted to reject the proposal, noted the large crowd at the Troutdale Community Policing Center was not representative of the entire debate. The city council had received calls and emails in support, he noted, but those who were strongly opposed were more vocal about their concerns.
Councilor Hudson agreed with that statement, adding that recognizing multi-family developments is one of the council's goals.
"We need this type of housing in this location," he said.
There are people who may enjoy living in an apartment in Troutdale, but they aren't able to voice their support because those apartments haven't been built.
"They will be part of our city too," Hudson said.
Councilor Allen took a long pause when asked for his vote, before voting in support of the developer.
While there are many reasons not to alter the zone, he said he didn't have enough evidence to cite relevant statutes to allow him to vote against the proposal.
"I've researched this thing every which way to Monday," Allen said. "You can count many reasons not to, but I don't think I have a leg to stand on, and it feels like we're being pressured by the state."
Allen asked if the developer had thought of creating another development using a different type of zone such as mixed commercial, that would still be profitable for the developer and not upset as many citizens.
Speaking on behalf of the developer, Andrew Tull, from 3J consulting, responded that Sheldon Development "has not explored a mixture of zoning options, but is known for and has built a lot of garden-style apartments."