Oregon to create new zoning category for industry

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council is planning to update the city’s zoning code this month, with a focus on changing some of the areas zoned industrial.
        “We think Oregon has done a great job as host to some of the heaviest industry in the region,” said City Administrator Mike Beazley at a recent council meeting. “But we think we generally have had our share of it. And we’re looking, as we’ve talked about it over the years, to make sure the industry we attract in the future has a lesser impact, and are better neighbors
        “We’re looking at some of our industrially zoned areas,” he continued, “near Cedar Point Industrial Park along Wynn Road and Corduroy Road. We’ll be looking to create a new zoning category, and rezone some of that land to that new category.”
        The current zoning code makes it difficult for the city to keep the heaviest industry from locating “almost anywhere,” said Beazley.
        “Even in our light industrial areas. So we’re looking to create a new section called Advanced Manufacturing. We’re looking to make sure we have enclosed buildings, for example, with a process or assembly going on inside.”
        The Overland Industrial Park was a good example, he said, “of the sort of zoning we’re going to try and create with this code.”
        Overland Industrial Park accomplished a couple of things to make it look more attractive, he added.
        “The refineries are important to us. The power plants are important to us. But we don’t think they belong in the industrial areas that are unused yet – right along the Corduroy and Wynn road areas. We’re looking to have this type of development to take up that space between that and the heavy industrial areas. The transition will serve as a screening as well. Some of the things they’ve done are: they broke up the mass of the buildings, variation in height, and banding both vertical and horizontal. You can put a large building in and a good number of jobs, but they are not necessarily unattractive.”
        The city will work on a draft that will consist of a six step process, said Beazley.
        “We’ll have to pass a resolution that refers the matter to the plan commission just to create the new zoning code section. Then the plan commission will review it. If the commission adopts it, it will come back to council to be codified. That will take a couple of public hearings,” said Beazley.
         Other property to be reviewed includes a parcel in the southern end of town that is close to Bay Park Hospital that is zoned industrial. “The city doesn’t control it, but we would look at that as well,” he said.
        “We want to ensure that the industries that Oregon attracts in the future are good neighbors and work well with us. This is not something that will happen within a few months, but we want to start with a resolution we will bring before council in January, and at some time bring it before the plan commission.”
        Mayor Mike Seferian said zoning currently has M1 and M2. M1 is light industrial, and M2 is heavy industrial.
        “In essence, the M1 is inside industrial, and M2 is outside industrial. So we might want to more accurately change the verbiage of that to address what those two zoning (designations) actually are,” said Seferian.
        “Along with that theme, the places we’re likeliest to leave the allowance for heavy industrial,” said Beazley, “are spaces off of York or west or north, closer to the refinery. In those spaces, we look to leave room for other heavier industrial. But the places that are between our residential and commercial areas and our heaviest industries, we are looking to create this new category.
        “We don’t really have a tool in Oregon to restrict that use unless we act on something like this. Somebody could take any of those industrial areas and put something in that we might not find as attractive,” said Beazley.
        “Among some of the things it would do that aren’t currently regulated much, or to a lesser extent in our industrial areas, are setbacks, landscape screenings, type of fencing, and parking lot restrictions, which are pretty common,” he said. “I drove around southeast Michigan along I-75 and looked at different places. Some of the more attractive areas are the Overland Industrial Park and Arrowhead Park areas. We think we know what we want to have less of here. Unless we put some rules in, we don’t have much of an ability to say no to those things. So with this tool, we think we can welcome the sort of industry that would fit well here.”


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