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Councilors consider changing zoning codes to allow for large recreational development

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ  - The idea for allowing larger recreational facillities in the Planned Development Industrial zone sprouted when Jewarts Gymnastics requested more space than they would currently be allowed to develop last October. Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp posed an existential question regarding current limits to recreational development at a recent work session.

Are Wilsonville representatives content with current zoning codes that prevent developers from building large recreational facilities in Wilsonville?

"Do we think that's OK or do we think that's a problem?" Knapp said.

And, though they identified potential drawbacks, Wilsonville councilors seemed open to the idea of adding such developments to the Planned Development Industrial (PDI) zone, which is designed for industrial operations and overlays a large chunk of Wilsonville, during the Feb. 22 work session.

Recreational developments include gyms, indoor play areas, indoor and outdoor sports fields or courts and similar facilities, and are considered commercial developments.

City staff suggested implementing a conditional use permit that would account for compatibility with industrial uses and said the intermingling of pedestrian traffic, trucking and distribution operations would be a notable concern. However, Wilsonville Planning Director Chris Neamtzu also said developments that cause weekend traffic rather than rush hour traffic would be compatible in industrial areas. The City could accept or deny individual applications with a conditional use permit system.

"It allows the city to look at the applications on a case by case basis and make decisions on the requests that are being made," Neamtzu said.

Councilor Scott Starr sensed that the Wilsonville comm-

unity desired an expansive recreational facility and liked the idea of creating a new zoning category beyond residen-

tial, commercial and industrial to account for recreational uses.

"It's pretty clear that they're looking for having some recreational space usage areas that just don't exist right now," he said.

And Councilor Charlotte Lehan said an expansive sports facility could attract tourism.

"These sports events or tournaments bring people in from a long ways away," she said.

Neamtzu said the city is contemplating allowing large-scale recreational developments specifically in the industrial area because of the land shortage in commercial zones and because developers appreciate the lower cost of industrial development. Because the Coffee Creek Industrial Area is considered a regionally-specific industrial area, it has more stringent regulations on commercial development and would not allow for such recreational developments.

The idea originated when Ben Jewart of Jewarts Gymnastics, which resides on Wilsonville Road and currently occupies 8,000 square feet, said he was interested in developing the vacant 2.05 acre area at the southwest corner of Kinsman Road and Wilsonville Road in October and sought 12,000 additional feet for the development. But under current zoning laws, this idea is impossible.

In 2004, the City of Wilsonville required that commercial and retail uses would be limited to 5,000 square feet in a single building and 20,000 square feet in a multi-building development in the PDI zone. However, facilities built before the 2004 change, like Wilsonville Business Center and Canyon Creek Road Business Park, were not subject to the rule change.

The Metro regional government's desire to protect industrial land from commercial use led to the policy, according to Neamtzu.

"There's constant pressure to use industrial land for quasi-commercial uses," he said.

Councilor Kristin Akervall said she appreciates the flexibility of the conditional use strategy.

"If you put these broad blanket kinds of things that could still get us into trouble. 'Recreational facility' could mean a lot of different things," she said. "Some big recreation-

al facility buildings are never going to have that many

people inside because of the type of sport. And sometimes people will flock to it and there will be a ton of cars and we need to be able to anticipate that."

Some Wilsonville councilors raised the concern that allowing for development of recreational uses in industrial areas could leave the city pining for more industrial land down the line.

"I know that industrial land in many other jurisdictions get eroded into commercial and then they are right back wanting industrial land," Lehan said. "And it always is because there are developers knocking on your door constantly for residential and commercial. Industrial is a special sort of thing. So you do have to preserve the industrial."

At the end of the discussion, City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said the process to approve this regulation would take awhile due to the packed workloads of planning staff as well as the complexity of the ideas and public process requirements.

However, Starr added: "At the same time I think we need to be open and flexible if things come our way in the meantime and entertain them."

Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Corey Buchanan can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-636-1281.

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