Town Council approves Lockers site rezone

Jennifer Bragar, lawyer for the McGarvas, speaks before the Lakeview Town Council on Wednesday, Aug. 26, about the rezoning of the former Lakeview Lockers site. The Lakeview Town Council voted 3 – 2 to approve the rezoning application.

In what was at times a contentious debate between council members, the Lakeview Town Council approved the rezoning of the Lakeview Lockers site 3 – 2 on Wednesday, Aug. 26. The rezoning changes it from residential single family to residential multi-family.

The McGarvas, who are seeking the rezoning, were represented by Jennifer Bragar, lawyer with Tomasi Salyer Martin based in Portland. Bragar said that the rezoning of the property meets both state and federal comprehensive land use goals, and that the other land zoned multi-family within the Lakeview Town limits is either unbuildable due to the slope of the property or is not available, something that would be a contention from those that voted against the rezoning.

“This rezoning will help to meet an unmet need for multi-family housing in Lakeview, as there has been no development of multi-family housing in 20 years,” said Bragar.

One of her main points was that the location of the rezoning places it close to services and commercial areas, while the other properties are further away and do not meet the requirements.

Many people spoke in favor of the rezoning of the property, converting it from the non-conforming commercial property to residential use.

Speakers addressed the need for multi-family housing options in the community. Currently there is only about 13 buildable acres of multi-family housing on the edge of town right behind the Safeway and Les Schwab Tires building. Most of that land, according to organizations that spoke in favor of the rezoning, is on steep slopes and its unavailability made it unreasonable to build at that location. The organizations also said the costs of making the land flat would make any project unreasonably expensive.

Those that spoke against the project highlighted that the lot size is smaller than the 10,000 square feet under the town planning codes, and that having a multi-family dwelling in a place where it is single family would not complement the existing single family usage in the area. Many people pointed out the existing area zoned multi-family as another option.

In response Bragar noted that building on those other acres for low-income housing was not an option due to the cost of the construction. She also said that the property was not currently for sale and therefore not available, something that Council member Niki Taylor disagreed with.

One area that became a topic of discussion was the 2019 staff report, which Council member Darwin Johnson said was never formerly adopted by the Town Council, which details the need for multi-family housing in Lakeview.

Taylor thought that the lot size was too small for a multi-family structure under the current definitions for multi-family dwellings, something that the McGarvas contended was more of a site plan issue and not a rezoning issue. Taylor said that with the acres already rezoned, that property was available for building a multi-family structure, even though it is currently not for sale.

Lakeview Mayor Ray Turner said that the Town was in a corner where they were not in a position to deny the rezoning of the property, though at the same time he said he did not like being threatened with lawsuits and appeals if he did vote against the rezoning.

Johnson said that the staff report did not address the vote by the Planning Commission to not approve the project, and said that the staff report needs to take out all reference to the potential number of units at the location. He said that he thought the McGarvas had been done a disservice by mentioning the number of units that could be built at the location in their rezoning application. Johnson said that he would not be supporting the rezoning due to ordinances that state the lot size and that a variance would need to be considered to approve the rezoning of the property, though Bragar and the McGarvas disagreed with Johnson.

Turner, Sandra Wenzel and Scott Langum voted in favor of the rezoning. Taylor and Johnson voted against.

Watch coverage of the meeting on the Examiner’s YouTube page.

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