Oregon council denies zoning changes to commercial, industrial

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council recently voted down zoning changes for commercial and industrial development on parcels on Corduroy Road and N. Wynn Road.
        The zoning change requests were from A-1 Agricultural District to C-I Commercial Industrial District at 4315 Corduroy Road, consisting of approximately nine acres, and 4701 Corduroy Road, consisting of approximately 23 acres; a zoning change from A-1 Agricultural District to Advanced Manufacturing District at 4713 Corduroy Road, consisting of approximately 29 acres; and a zoning change from Mixed use A-1 Agricultural District and C-1 Commercial Industrial District to Advanced Manufacturing District on a portion of property at 700 N. Wynn Road, consisting of approximately 23 acres.
        The zoning change requests were initiated by the City of Oregon.
        The Oregon Planning Commission last year recommended that council approve the zoning changes.         Two of the parcels are owned by the Economic Development Foundation and the other two are owned by private residents. The parcel to the west, at 4315 Corduroy Road, would have fit with zoning of industrial property around it had the zoning request for a Commercial Industrial District been approved. The parcel in the middle, at 4701 Corduroy Road, would have also been zoned C-I Commercial Industrial. The two parcels to the east - one at 4713 Corduroy Road and the other at 700 N. Wynn Road – would have been changed to an Advanced Manufacturing District, a new zoning designation the city created with the intent to use it as much as possible going forward because it is a little bit more restrictive for new industry.
        The city believes an Advanced Manufacturing District has a softer look and feel - with some design standards that are incorporated into it.
        The city has already made an investment in infrastructure in that area.
        The road to the north has been built and completed. Also, there is a retention pond to the north that has been built. Water and sewer lines have been installed to accommodate industry. Site selectors, or consultants, try to locate properties that are suitable for their clients. They look for utilities and infrastructure that serve those sites. And they also want to make sure properties are zoned appropriately.
        “The Economic Development Foundation has been working on Requests For Information (RFI) and submitting them to Jobs Ohio for leads that fit our community for industrial use and for these properties,” said Administrator Joel Mazur. “This rezoning has been the plan all along. It’s been in the process for a very long time. One of the biggest points here is that the investment has already been made. Wynnscape Road has been connected. The utilities were added to be robust enough for industrial use. The investment was made through an EDA grant. It was a very public process to get to this point. This also conforms to the city’s Master Plan, which lists this area as industrial. Time is of the essence. The RIFs are coming out now. It hasn’t been slowing down. Anyone who lived through the recession of 2008 and afterwards knows how precious these leads can be, and how, back then, there were so few of them. The opportunity now is to act on them.”
        But city council wanted all of the parcels changed to the newly created zoning designation of Advanced Manufacturing.
        “I’m hung up on the concept of the 4701 property on Corduroy being Commercial-Industrial versus Advanced Manufacturing,” said Councilman Steve Hornyak. “I think it should all be Advanced Manufacturing unless there’s a specific reason why it wouldn’t be. I don’t know why we would make that C-I and the other two parcels Advanced Manufacturing as opposed to creating one larger block of all the same zoning.”
        “I agree with Mr. Hornyak 100 percent,” said Councilman Terry Reeves. “I think it should all be Advanced Manufacturing if we do anything with it.”
        Alec Thompson, executive director of the Oregon Economic Development Foundation, said it was a “business decision” to want the 4701 property zoned Commercial-Industrial.
        “The reason it’s C-I, but Advanced Manufacturing on the other parcels is, with Advanced Manufacturing, there’s more of a border on residential sides. The border on Corduroy Road with the one we proposed to be C-I is minimal and it still matches what is to the west of that. So it allows for more flexibility. That was a business decision,” said Thompson.
        Members of council asked if they could make all of the zoning change requests Advanced Manufacturing. Law Director Melissa Purpura said they could not. They could only vote yes or no at the zoning change requests before them.
        “If it’s council’s desire to change what has been previously proposed by the planning commission and approved by the planning commission, council cannot just change it tonight. You would have to deny it and refer it back to the planning commission,” said Purpura.


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