Lincoln City City Council: Villages NOT for sale, a step toward Fred Meyer arriving in LC?, 4 marijuana dispensaries are apparently enough, and establishing the VR zone vacation rental rule. The rest later.
The Villages not for sale
The Lincoln City City Council was pitched Monday night to sell their recently acquired Villages properties at the north end of town. A developer based in Salem said he’d write the city a check for $2.5 million and outright give the city the much coveted upper “Knoll” area for open space. The city council said basically thanks but no thanks – they’ll shepherd the kind of development that best suits the city and the community. Once developed the city stands to make a bundle on the property – revenues that can be used not only to further enhance The Villages but also other parts of Lincoln City. The council agreed with City Manager David Hawker that such valuable property should be developed in a way that reflects the wishes of the people of Lincoln City, not a single developer.
Where to put any additional medical marijuana dispensaries
The Lincoln City City Council Monday night moved a step closer to approving rules on where future medical marijuana dispensaries will be located in the city. The council got an earful from dispensary operators to not overly restrict their placement because medical marijuana is a proven prescription for certain ailments thereby making it a medicine – and it’s recognized by the state as such. Still, a number of local church officials condemned any sales of marijuana in the city – one minister saying, in so many words, that the city ought to ban its sale, period. It was quickly pointed out that state law prevails in such instances. And the state says it’s legal.
In the end the council tightened the rules on where additional medical marijuana dispensaries might locate – so much so that the areas where it would still be legal to have such an operation would be a pretty tough find. The council not only adopted the state regulations but also added some of their own recommended by the city planning commission who also studied the issue:
1- Medical marijuana dispensaries cannot locate within 2,000 feet of another dispensary.
2- Medical marijuana dispensaries cannot locate within 1,000 feet of a school, park or church.
3- Medical marijuana dispensaries must have a plan to properly dispose of marijuana waste and residue.
In voting for the added provisions, City Councilor Chester Noreikis said Lincoln City already has four medical marijuana dispensaries and that’s enough. Of the four, two fully comply with the new regulations, the other two don’t. They comply only with the state’s siting regulations. But the two won’t be shut down because the city’s tighter regulations will go into effect long after the two were already up and running – and running legally. They will be grandfathered in. But the new rules will make it very hard to find a spot to set up another one.
The city council said they will formally adopt the final regulations at their next council meeting.
What’s better? Big Box stores or quaint hometown mom and poppers?
The Lincoln City City Council heard Lighthouse Square property owner David Emami implore the council to allow him to create a store area beyond the city’s 60,000 square foot limit on his property because several large chains have been shopping for a way to get into the Central Coast market – Lincoln City their preferred choice.
Emami said the city’s current size limit on individual stores, 60,000 sq. ft., is a non-starter with larger chains like Fred Meyer, Target and others. He said Lincoln City has not experienced much real growth because of it’s attempts to overly protect local mom and pop stores from competition when in fact many of those stores would benefit as more shoppers from throughout the region flocked to Lincoln City instead of to Newport, Salem or suburban Portland. Emami’s architect also pointed out that mom and pop stores don’t have higher paid middle-management positions which pumps up membership in the region’s middle class. But city staff noted that several mid-size local grocery stores might go under.
City Councilors have in the past acknowledged that the uniqueness of Lincoln City that is found in its small scale, beachfront charm. But councilors none-the-less agreed to take another look at the square footage cap which could eventually open the door for Emami’s plans for the Lighthouse Shopping Center. Emami said Fred Meyer has looked at it but they can’t shoehorn one of their stores into that small of a space. They need more. But again, will there be enough parking? City staff reminded the council that there are very few large enough sites around Lincoln City to accommodate the larger stores.
City planning staff said multi-story buildings involving big box stores are popular in larger American cities – stores on the ground floor, apartments/condos on the upper – or having more stores on the second or third floors. But Emami added that only Portland/Lake Oswego seem amenable to such arrangements. He also said his property – the big square footage on the north side – won’t accommodate second and third stories. It wasn’t originally built for multi-story.
The council sent the size cap back to the city planning commission for another review and to send their findings back to the city council so they can another look at it.
Another bite of the VRD apple
And the Lincoln City City Council finally managed to formally approve changes in the way vacation home rentals are sited and operated in town. They passed the first of three new ordinances that seek to regain control of what some have termed a fast growing problem with vacation home rentals – noise, garbage, parking and the erosion of quality of neighborhood atmosphere.
The council took a lot of heat from those who have complained for months that the council was going after a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. But the council begged to differ. A recent survey of registered voters revealed that a strong majority believes that VRD’s have dramatically grown in number and that they want them brought back under control. But VRD owners and managers say VRD’s are part of the economic foundation of the community – drawing well heeled visitors from Portland and other northwest cities. They say VRD’s employ landscapers, cleaning and maintenance workers as well as provide income for vacation management firms – many of them local.
Having said all that, City Attorney Richard Appicello reminded the audience and the council that under state land use law, the city must provide a balance of housing opportunities for its residents and visitors. He said many city residents, especially in single family neighborhoods have made their displeasure clear that something must be done to restore the quality and character of their neighborhoods. And to that end Appicello proposed a very long awaited new city ordinance that lays out the creation of a new “Vacation Rental,” or “VR zone.” Anyone with a vacation rental in a VR zone gets unlimited night rentals all year long, just like vocational rentals located in commercial zones.
However, the council did not approve the other two-thirds of the revised vacation rental regulations. Those include rules covering VRDs in residential zones that already exist along with new VRDs coming on line. Those hot button issues will come up for review and possible approval at the council’s December 8th meeting.