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home : business : business June 24, 2016

4/29/2014 12:49:00 PM
Rezoning plan remanded to planning commission
Council works on several ongoing projects
At the April 24 city council workshop and the council meeting that followed, the City of Sisters reported progress on a number of projects.

• Urban Forestry Board: Based on earlier Creekside Campground testimony and other public input, Councilor Chris Frye proposed that the Urban Forestry Board be removed from the planning commission's responsibility and be formed as a separate board that would include interested parties and community members with significant forestry experience. The council agreed and directed City staff to develop a proposal with public input.

• Formula foods moratorium: Responding to a question from Jack Nagel during visitor communications, City attorney Steve Bryant informed the council that a moratorium on the permitting of formula foods in the downtown commercial district, as suggested in two separate town hall meetings on the formula food zoning, is not legal.

Bryant said, "The council can only declare a moratorium based on statutory process ... it has to be something that dramatically impacts the health and safety of the community as a whole, and you have to have a plan for correcting that problem."

The moratorium was requested to preclude the permitting of formula food restaurants downtown until the City is ready to propose, conduct public hearings on, and implement new zoning ordinances for both the downtown commercial and highway commercial zones.

Off the record, several councilors have expressed their concern that a moratorium would send "the wrong message" to potential developers.

Bryant indicated that he is crafting language that he believes will work for what the City is looking for.

• Community Asset Committee: The formation of the Community Asset Committee (CAC) is moving forward. Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, SPRD, Sisters School district and EDCO have been identified. Four community members have also been nominated; they include Bill Hall, Bill Willitts and Jerry Norquist.

This ad hoc committee is envisioned to take about three months to sift through the results of public hearings and other community input to develop a prioritized list of potential projects, large and small, that the city could be working on to improve the environment, culture, and prosperity of Sisters. The CAC is a direct outgrowth of the public hearings relative to the proposed city amphitheater earlier this year.

• Noise: The council voted to extend the city managers prerogative to permit an extension of the time permitted for outside music venues from the current cutoff of midnight to a cutoff of 1 a.m.

Under ordinance 418 enacted at the end of 2012 the city manager was authorized to issue a permit for events permitted under city code to allow a "noise nuisance" event to extend the operation of said event past the normal 10 p.m. cut off to no later than 12 a.m. The new amendment extends that exemption to 1 a.m.

City Manager Andrew Gorayeb requested the amendment based primarily on input from Hardtails Bar and Grill relative to rodeo weekend.

• Council packets: In response to several public complaints about the short time between the availability of City Council "packets" and the actual meetings they refer to, City Recorder Kathy Nelson requested that she be able to make the packets available to council members and the public late Monday. The council agreed.

Nelson pointed out that many cities have their council packets out a week in advance. She also noted that the earlier the publication, the less chance the council or the public has to make any last-minute changes. The new deadline for input will be Friday.

• MP3 recordings of council minutes: In response to public testimony and email input, the council discussed what it would take to make MP3 recordings of council meetings available on the City website for public access.

The council decision was not to pursue the issue at this time based on the $1,200 cost of installation, and the impact on the City server storage. It was noted that the same four people are the only ones that request transcripts of the meeting every month, now available on CD at city hall for $10 each.

By John Griffith

On the recommendation of staff, the Sisters City Council remanded the proposed of portions of Peter Hall's Three Sisters Business Park back to the planning commission for review.

Community Development Director Pauline Hardie cited a significant difference between the presentations given to the planning commission and later to the City council as the reason for the recommendation to return this request to the planning commission.

Twice the planning commission has conducted hearing on this rezone, and twice they have voted to reject the proposal. In February, Hall made his proposal to the planning commission to change the zoning of his 16-acre parcel at the north end of Pine Street from light industrial to low-density residential. Hall wants to combine this land with an existing 12 acres to the north that is already zoned residential to allow for the construction of 100 to 130 single-family homes.

After the second hearing, the commission forwarded their recommendation to reject the proposal to the city council.

A presentation to the April 10 council workshop, conducted by City staff and augmented by participation from the applicants, earned verbal support of the rezone from Councilor McKibben Womack and Mayor Brad Boyd. But the council was in what several councilors described as an "uncomfortable position" of potentially overturning the planning commission's recommendation.

Ultimately the council opted to wait for the April 24 public hearing before rendering their final decision. The decision to remand the request to the planning commission at their April 24 meeting was made just prior to opening the hearing to public testimony.

In making her recommendation to remand, Hardie said, "In regards to this project ... since the planning commission's review and recommendations for denial and the presentations to the City council, there was some new information that was given to the council that I think that the planning commission should have the opportunity to review as well."

Hardie continued, "For example, we went into detail with the council on the different uses in each of the districts, and how there were not a lot of like uses between light industrial in North Sisters business park.

"We also talked about specific inventories of lots in development in the residential and North Sisters Business Park ... in more detail with the council than we did with the planning commission, and I think they need to hear that," said Hardie.

"And lastly we talked about projected supply by land-use categories with the council. Because of this information I would recommend that the City council remand it back to the planning commission so that we can hold another possible workshop, but definitely some public hearings with the planning commission so that they can review this new material."

The council concurred with Hardie's recommendation on a 3-0 vote, with councilors Wendy Holzman and David Asson absent.

For additional council action see the online version of this story.

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