Oregon City Council on Monday approved a resolution imposing a 180 day moratorium on accepting applications for conditional uses for used outdoor automobile storage and sales and other outside storage lots.
Some on council this year have expressed concerns about the number of outside storage lots in the city.
“Concern has been raised on numerous occasions by citizens, former members of council and current members of council as to the number of used car lots and storage lots in the city,” said Councilman Joshua Hughes. The resolution gives council time to address the concerns, he added.
“It gives us the ability to take 180 days to evaluate and review and update the conditional use and special use regulations in our own zoning code and chart our own future,” he said.
“It’s my understanding that the main purpose of this is to see if we could find a better way of addressing businesses that most of us may not be excited about,” said Councilman Jerry Peach.
“Yes. It gives us the opportunity to revisit our zoning code,” said Hughes.
“To see if there might be a better way?” said Peach.
“Correct,” said Hughes.
“And there may be a better way,” said Peach. Granting a special use exception to the owners of a parcel where an adult bookstore had previously been located on Woodville Road resulted in a “less than aesthetic outcome,” he added, which focused attention to the issue.
The plan of the owner of the parcel was to improve the property for another use, said Peach.
“The purpose of using the lot was for the overflow of used cars for a business. And there may be a better way for addressing that. But the mechanism that was used to try and arrive at a fair outcome for everyone concerned was the special use exception to the code which allowed a legislative decision to be made, one that could be tailor made and it was location specific. I say that to underscore there may not be a better way,” said Peach.
“I agree,” said Hughes. “All this does is give us the opportunity to look at it. It kind of puts everything on hold so we don’t have three or four more used car lots on Navarre Avenue before we decide we’re going to take a look at it and see what if anything can be done about it I don’t think the people of Oregon would tolerate three or four more. So, for me personally, this wasn’t a knee jerk to the parcel on Woodville Road, the former adult book store. We have eight lots in Oregon, and we have a little more than 20,000 residents.”
Councilwoman Kathy Pollauf agreed that there were too many used car lots in the city.
“You can’t have all these used car lots. Do we want Oregon to have an overabundance of one specific thing, or do we want diversity in our businesses. That’s what we’re looking at,” she said.
Councilman Tim Zale, who, along with Hughes has expressed concerns about the outside storage lots for the last few months, said the moratorium was not anti-business.
“We’re interested in some very quality businesses in Oregon. I for one have heard from many constituents about the influx of used car lots. That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” said Zale. He agreed with Peach that the special use exception the city granted for the outside storage lot on Woodville Road was the “catalyst” that made him consider a moritorium. The parcel, he said, “looks horrible.”
“I for one think Woodville Road has a lot of potential that we’ve kind of forgotten about,” said Zale. “It just doesn’t look like something that is going to invite any type of quality retail to go anywhere near that. And I do recall when that was passed, that it was supposed to be a temporary use of that property, but we have nothing that says it absolutely will be a temporary use of that property.” The moratorium, he added, will “see if there’s a way we could carve out something that would make everyone happy and actually improve the appearance of our retail districts. I think that’s what we’d like to do here. Maybe we can’t. You might be right. We might already have this within our hands. But I think we need to look at it a little better.”
Councilman Jim Seaman said he was concerned zoning code changes that would limit used auto storage lots could hurt a new car dealership that might someday be interested in coming to Oregon.
“There’s no question that new car dealerships have used car lots. And I don’t think we need to be against a new car dealership in Oregon. This could be an unintended consequence that we have here. This is something I want clarified,” said Seaman. “Moratoriums are dangerous. You’re specifying a group that can’t do business in a community.”
“We want to have the time to examine our code and see what we can do to make sure what you’re saying doesn’t happen,” said Zale.