The Oregon Planning Commission last month approved a variance on a parking lot landscaping buffer for property at 2200 Woodville Road.
The Commission last year had unanimously approved a Special Use Exception (SUE) in a C-2 Commercial District for the property owner, James Duran, who wants to use the site as a storage lot for car dealership vehicles. The Commission had approved the SUE with the Project Review Committee’s recommendation for a landscaping buffer on the lot.
At the Jan. 17 Planning Commission meeting, Duran felt it was unnecessary to provide the buffer, and that a solid wood fence he planned to install would address headlights and noise issues.
Duran, of Brown Road, said he did not oppose a buffer at the front of the lot facing Woodville Road and Oakdale Avenue, which takes away 25 feet of frontage. The lot, just 100 feet by 130 feet, with the six foot buffer requirement on each side, as well as the rear of the property, would remove another 18 feet from the available storage space. Along with the added cost of landscaping, Duran was unsure he wanted to move ahead with the project.
Planning Commission member Brent Shimman suggested keeping the landscaping buffer requirement along the front of the property and the side facing a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, which would give Duran an extra 12 feet of storage area.
Duran said it would give him more space in which to turn around when moving vehicles on the lot, but he preferred the buffer requirement just along the front of his property.
Mayor Mike Seferian, who is also a member of the Commission, said he was not opposed to dropping the landscaping buffer requirement because he wants to help new businesses come to the city.
Planning Commission member Joe Gajdostick, supported waiving the buffering requirement on both sides of the property, but inquired whether it should be at the rear of the property in case someone later wanted to put a house on the empty lot.
Seferian said if someone wanted to build a house on the lot, the Commission would have to review it because of the lot’s size and irregularity.
James Gilmore, the commissioner of building and zoning, said a house could not be built on the lot because it is small and the property is zoned Commercial. He did not have a problem with Duran’s request for relief from the side and rear yard buffer requirements.
Planning Commission member Rick Orovitz said that eliminating the buffer on the Kentucky Fried Chicken side of the lot could damage Duran’s fence, which would be the only thing separating the paved parking areas.
Shimman said he had no problem waiving the buffering requirement and that the risk of damage to Duran’s fence was not the Commission’s concern.
“That shouldn’t be our concern,” Seferian said to The Press. “That’s one of the reasons for a fence – letting people know that there’s an end there. If people run into it, they should be responsible for it.”
The Commission voted 3-1 to waive the landscaping buffer requirement along the sides and the rear of the property with the buffer required just along the front of the property facing Woodville Road and Oakdale Avenue. Orovitz voted against the variance.
“We really want something there,” Seferian said after the meeting. “And because of where it’s located, and the odd shape of the lot, we’re not going to get a retail store or anything like that in there. We’re going to have to settle for something like what he wants to put in there. If Duran did not get the buffer relief, he probably would have dumped the project. And that property would have just sat vacant again. That’s what we wanted to avoid. It’s a good fit.”
Seferian also said the waiver gives Duran incentive to buy adjoining property.
“We want to make that appealing to him to try and pursue buying that lot so he can clean it up. And if he continues his parking lot, I would be in favor of having to put in a buffer on the western end because he would own it to the end of the street and there’s nothing else to buffer it except the street,” he said.
Duran also owns the City Wide Auto Credit lot across the street from the site, and DC Motors in Northwood. The lot, which will be paved asphalt, is small and limited for vehicle storage. The property, which Duran has owned since 2004, would only be used for the overflow of vehicles for sale.