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Council members discuss and adopt changes moving forward to develop tractor store

Molalla City Council members held a public hearing on zone changes for the land at 31176 Highway 213 in the city. This is a proposal to develop a Tractor Store that would provide farming equipment and supplies for farmers, their stock and their pets. The area is about 8.75 acres in size and was originally been zoned for light industrial with two buildings and four accessory structures with commercial stores to the south.

During the public hearing in which the only proponent was Trey Jinright, a professional engineer from JADE Consulting representing the developer Hix Snedeker responded. No one from the public testified for or against the idea, although there had been plenty of public notice to neighbors in late May. Council members then focused most on the proposed access and how that would affect the two lane Highway 213.

The city's planning commission recommended the city council approve the commercial enterprise and found it consistent with statewide planning goals, with notice mailed to all local landowners within 350 feet. It is designed to support the agriculture surrounding the Molalla city area; it incorporates natural elements in its building and landscape designs. General commercial zoning maintains and improves the quality of air, water and land resources over the former light industrial.

Additionally, commercial properties tend to bring higher taxes and ease the amount homeowners contribute to the city's budget. It will also need to hire workers raising employment needs to 68 percent over the 32 percent required for light industrial. And, it will somewhat improve the ratio of acreage from commercial to industrial, which currently is 52 commercial and 160 industrial.

According to the traffic findings, Oregon's Department of Transportation has reviewed the situation and made recommendations for pedestrian and vehicle safety. The council spent more time on this area than others.

ODOT cautioned that it might be necessary to provide a left turn lane for the potential of increased traffic. A roundabout also will be considered. One or both will be necessary to slow down the highway speeds and prevent accidents. The applicant indicated that the access will be shared with a mini storage facility already on the property increasing the need for left turn access. The developer and applicant will need a permit for that access.

In the end, council members voted to approve the change from light industrial to commercial voting unopposed and then adopted the ordinance for the zone change, which also passed unopposed.

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