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New zoning regulations proposed for Gateway

Business and residential property owners seek varied changes to Mid-County zoning regulations


Ron Tonkin General Manager Ken Cornelison stands in front of 12212 S.E. Ash St. This and the two buildings to the left and right of Cornelison are the properties Tonkin wants to purchase and demolish, making way for a new Honda showroom. All three Ash St. property owners favor the zone change.
New zoning regulations for the Gateway area are moving forward, private agendas and all. The Portland Bureau of Planning is recommending a number of changes to zones, and design and development regulations, for the Gateway Urban Renewal District and the areas around it. These should be available to the public by June 16, according to planner Ellen Ryker. They will be available for public viewing and feedback at open houses later in the month, at times and places not available at press time.

Among the proposed changes are the following:

• Properties now zoned EG2 (for industrial development) chiefly in the Prunedale area on the west end of the district will be rezoned EXD, a mixed use zone that allows almost any combination of uses except heavy industry.

• An area on Northeast 102nd Avenue 100 feet wide near Pacific Street now zoned RH (high density housing) will be rezoned CX (a high density commercial zone covering much of downtown.) Other RH-zoned property north of East Burnside Street will be rezoned RX (an even higher density housing zone that allows some ground floor retail.)

• There will be greater regulation of design. Developers will be asked to adhere to the city’s Community Design Standards, which regulate how new buildings are built. If they wish to deviate from these, they will have to go through a public process. Bureau staff will make decisions, but people disagreeing with those decisions can file an appeal that will lead to a public hearing before the Portland Design Commission, and neighborhood associations can do it for free. Any project above a certain size (still not determined) will go through a Type III process, with an automatic public hearing and a chance to appeal to City Council.

• The maximum height on properties zoned for single family housing west of 127th Avenue will decrease to what they are elsewhere in the code, usually 25 feet. Conversely, greater height and density will be allowed in commercial and high density housing zones near the transit centers at 148th and 162nd avenues.

• Where commercial and high density housing districts are next to single family housing zones, there will be lower height restrictions on the portion of the property nearest to the zone line. This is intended to reduce the effect of high buildings on nearby homes. However, this will not apply to lots that have single family homes on them but are zoned for other uses.

• The district will be split in two, with different regulations inside and outside the urban renewal district, whose eastern boundary is approximately 106th Avenue. Inside the district, in what will be known as the Gateway Regional Center Plan District, there will be a new set for design regulations crafted specially for this area.

• New developments on properties larger than 200,000 square feet will have a mandatory master planning process, and properties larger than 40,000 square feet can have this by the owner’s discretion. This will allow the city to craft regulations that are better suited to each particular case than can be found in the zoning code, with public participation in the process. However, it will also give developers greater flexibility in dealing with city regulations. For instance, the district currently has a regulation that properties over 200,000 square feet have some residential as part of any new development; the master planning process would allow builders to avoid this by committing to building the housing somewhere else, or paying money to a Housing Trust Fund.


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