The Oregon Planning Commission recommended at a meeting last month that a zoning change on vacant land on Navarre Avenue be approved to make way for a commercial office building.
Plans call for the unidentified business to create 80-100 well paying jobs at the site. City council is expected to vote on the Commission’s recommendation at a meeting on March 26.
The applicant for the zoning change was Bruce M. Kearns of JMS Real Estate for owners Navinshandra Fulabhat and Sharmishta Patel.
Kearns said he was bound by a confidentiality agreement and could not disclose the name of the business. The zoning change is from R-5 condo-residential to C-5 Navarre Avenue Business District Zoning at 3851 Navarre Avenue.
James Gilmore, commissioner of building and zoning, said the parcel currently has split zoning, with C-5 in the front and R-5 to the north. Located east of the Oregon Clinic on the north side of Navarre Avenue, the parcel is 165 feet wide and 1,320 feet deep.
The Project Review Committee had suggested that the northern 150 feet should remain zoned as R-5 condo-residential to act as a buffer between single family residential and commercial areas. The request is consistent with the city’s 2025 land use plan, as well as the zoning on adjacent properties.
Kearns said the Oregon Clinic is zoned C-5 back to the 150-foot setback and he has agreed to that setback as well.
He said he has been in the development business for some time and that he typically secures a site after being hired by someone who has picked out a location. He said he had met with City Administrator Mike Beazley, who felt the intended use would be a good fit for the neighborhood.
Plans call for the construction of a two-story, 25,000-square-foot building at the site, according to Kearns. There will be parking in the front of the building, and more in the back. Besides a landscape buffer and the 150 foot setback, a detention pond has been designed at the back of the building. The office building will have hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Kearns said that the purchase agreement is contingent upon him getting the zoning changed.
Daniel Martin, of Bridgewater Drive, whose neighborhood abuts the site, said the Planning Commission should stipulate, as a condition of the zoning change, that the property will revert back to R-5 zoning if it is not used as intended and within a specific time frame.
Jack Carpenter, of Bridgewater Drive, said he has experienced flooding on his property and expressed concerns about the problem getting worse if anything is built on the property.
Mayor Mike Seferian, who is a member of the Planning Commission, said it was uncommon for a condition to be placed on a zoning change.
Gilmore said the zoning code does not address placing time constraints for changes in zoning to revert back to previous zoning. There is no time frame placed on a straight zoning change.
Seferian said the company would be required to submit a site plan to the Public Service Director that addresses drainage issues. He said further development of the area shouldn’t make drainage any worse and could possibly improve the situation.
“That area floods back there because it’s not improved land,” Seferian said after the meeting. “Once they put a drainage plan in place, common sense would tell you that it should get better.”
He added that the storm sewers along Navarre Avenue were upgraded when the road was improved.
“It would drain to Navarre Avenue, where we have a fairly new storm sewer system,” said Seferian. “So I don’t think the water is going to be a huge issue there.”
Public Service Director Paul Roman said drainage in that area naturally heads north. Wal-Mart’s detention ponds helped drainage in the area by routing water to Navarre Avenue. Roman also said that additional detention ponds installed with future land development would help further divert water away from the subdivision.
According to the zoning code, only the following land uses are permitted in a C-5 zone:
• Personal service establishments;
• Commercial entertainment establishments;
• Hotels and motels;
• Professional offices;
• Retail businesses and services;
• Automobile dealerships.
Kearns said construction could begin as early as this summer or fall, with completion expected next spring or summer.
Last week, Seferian said he still did not know what kind of commercial office building was planned at the site. “If I had to guess, I would say it was something associated in the medical field,” he said.
“They are supposed to be well-paid jobs in an office style setting,” he added. “I don’t think there is anything else that fits that. We’re excited about that type of fit for that location.”
Despite some residents’ concerns about what was going to be built on the site, Seferian said the property was eventually going to be developed at some point in the future.
“It’s vacant land along a state highway, so we know it’s going to be developed into something some day. For residents living nearby, this is probably one of the best things you could hope for – quiet operation, very subtle impact on their community,” said Seferian. “I understand the residents’ interest. But once we adopted our land use plan, we would have a hard time denying that zoning when we were almost promoting that area for that type of zoning use.”