Oregon Council on Monday approved a zoning change request on Navarre Avenue following the continuation of a public hearing due to opposition from some residents living near the property.
Noel Graham, on behalf of property owner Donna J. Graham, applied for the zoning change to C-2 Commercial from R-1 Low Density Residential at 5464 Navarre Avenue.
The Planning Commission on April 15 unanimously recommended approval of the zoning request.
The property has split zoning. The northern part of the parcel was zoned C-2, the southern part of the parcel was zoned R-1. The same split zoning designations exist to the west and east.
Years ago, when an overpass was built on Navarre Avenue, the parcel lost frontage on Navarre but gained frontage on a relocated South Stadium Road, said James Gilmore, commissioner of building and zoning.
“There is no rear yard. It has two front yards,” said Gilmore.
The zoning change to C-2 Commercial complies with the city’s 20/25 Master Plan.
The current use of the property is for the recondition and storage of buses for the Transportation Equipment Sales Corp. (TESCO), a national bus distributor owned by Noel Graham and headquartered in Oregon. The proposed use of the commercially zoned parcel is for bus storage.
Many residents living nearby were opposed to the zoning change, with some saying they did not want to see a used car lot when they looked out their windows.
Linda Wise, of Pickle Road, said she has no problems with the company.
“They keep a nice, clean business. I walk past there all the time, ride my bike down there,” said Wise, who said she’s lived on Pickle Road for over 30 years. “There’s a lot of potential for that to all be zoned C-2 back there, which then will bring those businesses right on top of a lot of us people who have park like settings in our back yard.”
She said she was unaware that the city’s Master Plan called for C-2 zoning in the area.
“I’ve never had the understanding that that was all going to be C-2 Commercial and developed. Maybe that’s what the city thought, but as a property owner, I never thought that,” said Wise.
Mary Ann Achter, of South Stadium, said she also had no complaints with TESCO because the property is well maintained.
“However, my concern is the property next to him. If [the zoning change] does pass, that means this property will pass as well, and then all the way down the road. We built our property 10 years ago. Everything was zoned R-1. We had no idea that the Master Plan was going to turn all of this into C-2. My concern is…I don’t want to have to come around the corner here and see a used car lot and have it expand. Where are they going to expand to next? Is it going to come all the way down the road? That takes away from our whole neighborhood,” said Achter.
Phil Cervantes, of South Stadium, agreed.
“You can say what you want to say, but a used car lot is a used car lot. And that is what they want to do. They want to put a used car lot on South Stadium Road. It may be a used bus lot, but it still comes down to a used car lot. How many used car lots do we have in Oregon? How many car lots do we need? You can put lipstick on a pig, and it’s still a pig. You change that zoning to C-2, then it’s going to have a Domino effect. If you put a C-2 in, you’re opening a Pandora’s Box. You’re letting them put in anything they want on our residential street. We don’t need one more car lot in Oregon. And that is what this is going to be. I don’t care how many nice new shiny buses they put on there, or used beat up buses, they are running a business as we speak. And the business is being run very smoothly. Now the business wants to expand. But onto a residential street?”
Paul Ackerman, of South Stadium Road, offered to help install buffering on the parcel.
Ackerman said he has extensive experience in landscape design and horticulture. He was the grounds superintendent at Crosby Gardens. “We always haven’t had perhaps the right tree in the right place. I want to see that happen,” he said. The way the city looks in the future has a great deal to do with the decisions that are made today, he added.
“Ninety-five percent of people, including business owners, could be content with the right planting. I think there’s a lot of potential here and I’d like to be involved. If there’s any landscape work or design to be done on Mr. Graham’s property, I’d like to do it for free. With beautification, I think we can satisfy most people,” said Ackerman.
Council President Dennis Walendzak said the city administration will develop a landscaping plan with property owners on the relocated S. Stadium Road.
“We’ll leave it up to the administration to develop a plan with the Tree Commission, the business owners, and the residents to provide appropriate buffering and take into account where the mayor and administration believe that the commercial district would end on that stretch,” said Walendzak.