Oregon Council amended its zoning code to allow commercial service to parked automobiles so that a Sonic Drive-in Restaurant could be built on Navarre Avenue.
“What we’re doing is taking out a line that states services cannot be made to parked automobiles,” said Mayor Marge Brown at a council meeting last Monday.
“There’s a great likelihood that a restaurant /food service establishment that would wish to provide service to parked automobiles will be built,” said Councilman Jerry Peach. “And it’s probably timely that we modify our code to permit that. This is what this proposal does.”
Council President Mike Sheehy asked why the provision was in the zoning code in the first place.
“Were there problems with those kinds of restaurants?” asked Sheehy.
“I don’t believe there were problems,” said Brown. “I don’t know why they ruled it out, but it was ruled out before my time as mayor.”
“Is [Sonic] the type of restaurant that you suspect is coming in?” asked Sheehy.
“We had an application for a building permit for a restauarant in a C-2 that would meet the definition of drive up service,” said Administrator Ken Filipiak. “It alerted us to the fact that this provision in the zoning code still exists. It isn’t per se that we’re trying to accommodate one specific business. We just think this is an oversight in the code. It doesn’t make any sense to allow this in more restrictive areas and not allow it in a least restrictive area. The same applicant you’re referring to, the multi-unit establishment, that’s occurring on Navarre Avenue, just to the east of Bob Evans restaurant, they do plan on putting in a restaurant in that area. But they came before this council a few months ago and asked for C-2 zoing, and received it. They could come back here and aske for C-4 or C-5 to accommodate this particular construction, and they would probably be able to do what ever it is they want to do. I don’t think theyr’e request would be out of line. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to not allow this type of business in a C-2. That’s really the crux of it. It’s not to accommodate a single building because they do have other options. They could come back for rezoning if they chose to do that, and still be accommodating under the existing code.”
“Is this the Pannera Restaurant that’s requesting this?” asked Councilman James Seaman.
“No. The applicant wishes to construct a Sonic Restaurant,” said Filipiak.
“Do we have a best bid criteria that applies to that kind of construction?” asked Seaman.
“It’s not a public project. It’s privately owned, so no,” said Filipiak.
“Would they use any local workers, some of our Oregon people - people who need work around here?” asked Seaman.
“I would hope so,” said Filipiak. “I would strongly encourage them to do that. But I have no idea. They don’t even have a permit yet.”
Ron Rothenbuhler, regional representative of the carpenters union, said he was concerned that the owners would not use local labor to build the restaurant.
“I can tell you this right now, we have watched another project that’s being started on Navarre Avenue, and we already have word that the contractor is either not from here or is not going to pay area wages standards,” said Rothenbuhler. “We’re not going to let that go without some type of redress. The Sonic Restaurant basically has 13 or 14 of these restaurants. My business agent has been working with them diligently. But they’re bringing people in that don’t pay any money to their people at a living wage, they don’t pay any benefits, and may not even pay the tax base that the rest of us that work here have to pay. So any special recommendations that include `Lets make sure they use local help or they’ll try’ doesn’t work. We’re going to make sure every effort is made, that they pay the taxes, live up to the same rules that every one of us has to, that we’re going to make that a priority in the City of Oregon because the working people here belong to trade unions, they make a living, they’re having a tough time paying their bills. “It’s not right to put people out of work and say `I wish they are local,’ then watch our tax dollars, and quality of life go down the drain.”
Sheehy said he would have liked to have seen a sit down restaurant built in Oregon.
“Many of us would have hoped for a sit down restaurant in that venue. I guess we can’t always decide on what type of restaurant comes to our city,” he said.
“The developers of that project are not finished,” said Filipiak. “They would like to bring a family style restaurant to that location as well. They are courting a couple of national outlets. They just don’t have any commitments right now.”