By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Planners considering application change

It calls for giving the city planning director authority to grant or deny conditional use permits for the two uses, with the planning commission hearing them only on appeal. However, it would give adjoining property owners the option to request a public hearing.

The commission asked the staff to prepare a formal proposal, to be presented to the public for response at a hearing, probably in September.

Two commissioners, John Tiege and Charles Hillstadt, dissented. Tiedge said holding public hearings on each application serves an important educational role.

But Planning Director Doug Montgomery and Planner Ron Pomeroy said they believe it is more informative and less frustrating for neighbors to air their concerns with the staff. For example, they noted a contentious hearing the commission had just held earlier in the evening included testimony the commission was unable to address because it didn’t pertain to the criteria on which applications are evaluated.

City code already allows the planning director to approve some types of applications through two different processes — a simple review resulting in approval or denial and a review with a formal notification provision.

The latter, being recommended in this case, calls for notifying adjoining property owners of the application and giving them a 14-day opportunity to either comment or request a hearing.

Montgomery and Pomeroy noted in a memo that “a number of Oregon communities — coastal, valley and Eastern — regulate these uses through simple, administratively reviewed business license registration processes, most of which require no notification at all.” Further, they argued, “Public opposition to past applications, as measured by those that have participated at public hearings, has been negligible, and public complaints regarding the approved establishments have been zero.”

Of 23 public hearings for the two uses, the memo states, “16 featured no public testimony.”

Thursday’s agenda made that 17 out of 25, with one application drawing testimony and the other not.

Martin Brown drew no testimony on his application to open a one-bedroom bed and breakfast in his historic two-story home at 707 N.W. Alder St. Michael and Valerie Rogers drew opposition from several neighbors on their application to operate a two-bedroom bed and breakfast rental in their home at 648 N.W. 16th St., but prevailed anyway.

Bed and breakfast operations require a live-in homeowner.

Neighbors said they didn’t want strangers in their neighborhood, potentially endangering their children. They also said they were concerned about traffic, crime, loud parties and people smoking outside, and possible impact on property values.

One woman asked whether the Rogers would be conducting background checks on customers before renting to them. 

Another neighbor said he did not want “a commercial enterprise of any kind near my residence,” because he fears it will be “just the beginning … and other commercial enterprises will creep in.” 

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