Philomath City Hall artwork

The Philomath Planning Commission last month took the initial steps of going through proposed land-use zoning amendments and plans to continue the discussion this coming Monday with a 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall.

The amendments under consideration fall under Philomath Municipal Code Chapter 18, which covers zoning and land-use issues. The state’s model code serves as a basis for the section but it is customized to serve the city’s comprehensive plans and interests.

Planning commissioners debated the pros and cons of just how much customization should go into the various sections of the document.

Back on Jan. 18, the commission reviewed several areas of the zoning code that needed revision and directed the staff to bring back proposed changes for consideration. The proposals brought up by city planner Pat Depa were to be reviewed in February and March but were tabled at those times with a focus on annexation criteria.

A section in the development code that provides specifications involving temporary storage sparked plenty of discussion among the commissioners as well as from the audience.

The proposed language would prohibit long-term or temporary storage of materials or goods in a semi-truck or tractor/trailer. Long-term uses in industrial-zoned districts might be approved if part of the business operation’s shipping and receiving but the planning commission would need to review it.

Another provision proposed a requirement to screen all parking or storage of tractor/trailers in industrial zones from the public right-of-way and adjacent residential. And another would require a permit for other temporary parking situations that were not pre-approved.

“It definitely can become a blight situation,” Depa said during the meeting. “There’s no restrictions, there’s no buffering it or shielding it. It’s just typically right on your front street and if we don’t address it and don’t regulate it, it’s going to be popping up everywhere.”

As the discussion continued with examples of specific businesses in town, commissioner Jeannine Gay said she didn’t really approve of stringent restrictions with it being too difficult to control.

The commission opted to remove most of the provisions presented although there was the desire to retain a screening requirement. City Manager Chris Workman said language would be cleaned up to reflect those wishes.

The commissioners also discussed at length time limitations on plan approvals, size proposals involving manufactured home parks, specific uses for multi-family residential in commercial zones, specifics on urban tree canopy situations and parking standards for various household sizes.

With the evening representing the initial talks on such issues, the commissioners will revisit those topics and possible changes at this next meeting.

Also at the May 20 meeting, the planning commission reviewed comments collected from an open house on proposed annexation criteria and after making one language change, moved it forward to the city council on a 6-1 vote (Gay voted no).

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