City Planning tables hearing on waterfront draft

The first public look at proposed mixed-use zoning for the waterfront has been delayed for two weeks.

Tonight the Hood River City Planning Commission will open — and then postpone — the formal hearing on the draft plan that has been advertised for 6 p.m. at the county courthouse. However, because of a trial that is currently underway, the appointed body will convene in the old city hall at the junction of State and Second streets.

As of press time on Tuesday, the city planning body was expected to set the new hearing date for Sept. 24. However, that date could also be changed because the Hood River County Planning Commission will be holding its third hearing on Wal-Mart’s application for a super center at 7:30 p.m. that same evening in Bowe Theatre at the Hood River Valley High School.

City Manager Lynn Guenther said no public testimony will be taken tonight because of the delay in the formal hearing process. He said staffers believed the continuation of the proceedings was necessary so that the City Council could be updated on the latest revisions to the proposed zoning code. He said the City Council will be briefed about these details during a Sept. 22 worksession which begins at 6 p.m., although the location has not yet been determined. No public comment will be taken on the issue at that time.

“This will give the council an opportunity to review and question any items in the proposed ordinance before it is time to take formal action,” Guenther said.

He said Mayor Paul Cummings and Councilors Linda Rouches and Charles Haynie have been working with the Hood River Port Commission for more than two years to resolve zoning issues that have scuttled past planning efforts. In addition, Guenther said several joint meetings have been scheduled between city and port officials to reach common ground on key areas of concern. These discussions have included the amount of space that would be dedicated for a public park, the allowable maximum heights of buildings and the minimum setbacks for construction along the shoreline.

According to Guenther, the council wants to see the outcome of these efforts and has not yet been provided with a copy of the draft zoning plan in its entirety.

“Staff felt this was an oversight that needed to be corrected before we went any further down the road,” he said.

In early June, the port requested that the city adopt a zoning ordinance that would accommodate recreational, commercial and industrial development. The municipality is charged with setting land-use designations for the properties under consideration between the riverside jetty known as the Hook and the Hood River.

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