Florence adopts new housing code

Major changes brought by Ordinance No. 7 improve development prospects

Nov. 20, 2019 — Florence City Council adopted Ordinance No. 7, Series 2019, Monday evening at a combined Planning Commission and council meeting held at the Florence Events Center. The ordinance puts in place new legislative amendments that will significantly modify Florence City Code Titles 10 and 11, the Florence Realization 2020 Plan and the Florence Zoning Map Legend.

Florence’s new housing code has taken steps to make building housing here less difficult, as explained in Exhibit A of the supporting materials provided for the meeting: “The overarching goal for the code amendments is to remove regulatory barriers to the development of a wide variety of housing types in compliance with both the letter and the spirit of Oregon’s clear and objective requirements, to better meet the City’s identified needs for housing.”

The Planning Commission has been working with city staff since early spring to update the residential housing elements of city code, and the unanimous passage of the ordinance puts in place a new template for building housing of all types in Florence.

The update to the development and construction requirements within city limits was necessary as numerous sections of the code were out of date in regard to building techniques, material usage and architectural design.

In addition, there is an increasing need for housing options in Florence, which has been described as nearing a crisis level in recent years.

With this change, both the Planning Commission and the council have made a concerted effort to lessen the impediments to all types of housing development in Florence.

The newly modified code is the result of multiple meetings of the Planning Commission, many with stakeholders including builders, developers and residents.

The process has counted on the expertise and advice of Florence Planning Director Wendy FarleyCampbell throughout the revision, and she continued in that role Monday. She spoke in detail about the beginnings of the effort and the important contributions made by participants in the process.

“The first phase was the Housing and Economic Opportunities Project. That’s when we looked at our housing inventory and what our housing needs were for the community. It was the very first thing we needed to do before we could go into changing any housing code amendments,” FarleyCampbell said. “Then, there were multiple work sessions with the community and Economic Development Committee. There was a housing sub-committee established and, as you know, joint work sessions between the Planning Commission and Florence City Council.”

FarleyCampbell then provided a comprehensive recap of the efforts staff had undertaken to bring the revisions to this point and presented a list which highlighted the changes and suggestions made by city staff, Planning Commission members and City Councilors.

Dozens of changes have been made to the previous code, all of which were provided to members of both groups and are available for viewing online at ci.florence.or.us under the tab “Residential Code Update.”

The Planning Commission was first to act during the meeting as FarleyCampbell requested commissioners to consider approval of Resolution CC 19-03-TA-01, a proposal to recommend the city council approve the ordinance.

There were few questions for FarleyCampbell and, after a brief discussion clarifying changes to the parking space requirements and other minor details, the Planning Commission unanimously passed the resolution.

Public comments were limited, but there was a concern expressed by one of the speakers that regarded the height restrictions in the new code. The desire to limit the height of buildings, particularly in low-density residential zones, was the intent of the proposed limit of 35 feet.

The Planning Commission had previously discussed, at length, future height restrictions and had determined that a 35-foot limit was to be the standard. After a brief discussion clarified the need for a sloped roof to deal with rain and moisture issues, the Commissioners changed their recommendation to allow for a 40-foot, sloped roof in limited situations.

Next, FarleyCampbell guided councilors and commissioners through the numerous changes she had identified as needing clarifications.

After a brief round of questions and answers, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt Ordinance No. 7.

After a short recess, Mayor Joe Henry made an unscheduled announcement regarding Harlen Springer, Chairman of the Public Art Committee, who has been appointed to the Oregon Arts Commission by Gov. Kate Brown.

The meeting then continued with the consideration and approval of a series of consent items, which included an approval of a liquor license for the Homegrown Public House and authorization was given to Public Works Director Mike Miller to purchase an emergency power generator and a wastewater plant pump for his department, as well as contracting for engineering services related to the North Florence Sewer Project.

Action items were next addressed by the council with a short presentation made by Michael Titmus, a member of the Environmental Management Advisory Committee (EMAC), asking the council to apply for the designation of Tree City USA. The council approved the request.

City Recorder/Economic Development Coordinator Kelli Weese then requested approval of Resolution No. 26, Series 2019, which would authorize staff to accept a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for continued support of coastal entrepreneurship programs. This request was approved as was a memorandum of understanding entered into between the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN) and the City of Florence.

The last item of business for the evening was a request from Florence Events Center (FEC) Director Kevin Rhodes to consider having the FEC provide in-house food and beverage services.

Rhodes recapped the several ways that the events center has provided food and beverages in the past. He made the case that, with little capital outlay, the FEC could hire a part time kitchen manager and support staff, which would be a more efficient way of providing food and beverages in the future.

After a few questions, the council approved Rhodes’ request.

This was followed by Administrative Services Director Anne Baker, who presented the Quarterly Financial Report, and other committee reports were entered into the record.

At the end of the meeting, City Manager Erin Reynolds reminded councilors of the many openings on city committees and encouraged the public to attend a meeting of any committee they might be interested in joining.

The next Florence City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 16, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Florence City Hall.

The completed revision of the Florence residential Housing Codes can be viewed in its entirety at www.ci.florence.or.us.



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