Sept. 28, 2019 — Florence’s Planning Commission met Tuesday evening to consider requests from two stakeholders who required approval by commissioners before proceeding with plans to relocate a successful local business and to provide additional temporary housing within city limits.
City Planning Director Wendy FarleyCampbell first presented commissioners with a proposal from Katherine Lenox on behalf of the organization First Step, which is closely affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of the Siuslaw.
First Step requested commissioners approve a Temporary Conditional Use Permit to allow the organization to continue to place three camp trailers on the Presbyterian Church property, south of the main structure, for the purpose of transitional housing in the highway district.
Greg Wood is the pastor for the First Presbyterian Church of the Siuslaw and is also the president of the board of directors for First Step. His presentation to commissioners was primarily a response to the small number of complaints received from neighbors of the site, but also to a small number of issues Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) had with the project.
“I would like to just briefly address the one complaint letter and also the ODOT letter. … The ODOT one is probably the hardest one for us to take care of simply because understanding their comments and findings is a little above my pay grade,” Wood said. “We do take seriously concerns that are brought to us both as the church but also as First Step, from the neighbors. … The two tanks that were stolen I was made aware of in late July, through one of the homeless people that talks with me quite a bit, but that (theft) was before we had people living in the village.”
Wood continued by adding a change to the way the “village” will operate in the future in response to these concerns.
“We now have one resident … that has been designated our resident manager and he has been both commissioned and encouraged to call the police if anything like that happens again,” Wood said. “Overall, the church and First Step, I believe, are on pretty good footing and having had people move in, in the middle of August, we are really at the one-month mark and a lot of the parts of the program are beginning to kick in.”
One of the conditions the city was asking for was mentioned by FarleyCampbell in her presentation was brought up by Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue Captain Tony Miller. Miller inspected the site and asked that the entrance and exit ways to the area be graveled to allow emergency vehicles to access the trailers in case of a fire.
Commissioner Brian Jagoe was concerned with the sanitary aspects of the waste storage system being used by First Step.
Wood responded with the details of a professional removal service that were being used to assure there was no unexpected spills or overflow.
Miller’s concerns were also acknowledged by Wood and he agreed to incorporate all of the recommendations of staff into the work plan for the location, including upgrades to the entrance and exits of the location under discussion.
Commissioners had few remaining questions and after listening to a summary of the steps taken during the process which led to staff support for approval of the resolution, commissioners unanimously passed the request authorizing a two-year approval of the conditional use permit.
The second major item on the commission’s agenda was a request for a change of use and a design review approval for a sporting goods store with an outdoor storage and display area at the southeast corner of Highway 101 and Maple Street.
Essentially, petitioner Roger Center, acting on behalf of Ed and Debbie Costa, was asking the Planning Commission to allow the Costas to move their business, Florence Yamaha, from Highway 126 to the property currently occupied by Pro Lumber.
FarleyCampbell again walked the commissioners through the extensive informational packet provided for the meeting, which recommended approval of the request.
There were a number of statements, some written and some delivered in person during the public comments of the meeting that supported or opposed the sought for changes.
The major concerns expressed by the 10 or so residents that went on the record opposing the move cited the potential for excessive noise and traffic which would accompany the activities associated with a major retailer of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).
There was also minor push back due to the nature of the business, which a small number of residents said did not accurately reflect the history and culture of Florence, especially as it would be located near the planned ReVision Gateway to Historic Old Town Florence.
However, there were an even greater number of speakers that felt the relocation of Florence Yamaha was in fact a good representation of the type of business Florence should highlight to travelers and those that want to take ATVs onto local dunes.
FarleyCampbell was very specific during her presentation in identifying a number of conditions that must be met by the applicant, which included noise and sight mitigation and an agreement by Center and Costa to abide by all suggested conditions requested by the Planning Department.
Some of the conditions would require additional parking for cars, trucks and bicycles. One complaint mentioned dust as a concern, and this issue would need to be addressed by requiring asphalt in parts of the parking lot that are expected to be high use areas. Landscaping and lighting issues were also mentioned by FarleyCampbell, and commissioners were assured by the applicants that any and all conditions asserted by the city would be included in the changes necessitated by the move.
Commissioners asked a few follow-up questions of the Costas and FarleyCampbell before approving the request unanimously.
The next scheduled meeting of the Florence Planning Commission is scheduled for Oct. 8 at 5:30 p.m. at Florence City Hall.