Councils decision could fuel another appeal

Split vote overturns Planning Commission decision, allows construction of fuel station on the west end of town

On a split vote, the Sandy City Council gave permission Monday for Sanford Jones of Camas, Wash., to build a fueling station at Champion Way and Highway 26.

The Arco AM-PM retail complex on a one-acre plot also includes a convenience store and coffee kiosk, which already were approved by the Planning Commission.

Jones said he already has invested $1 million in the project, and will end up with a $3.5 million investment, while creating jobs for 14 people. Jones told the council he's been a Sandy businessman for more than 20 years, owning and operating the Alpine Village Apartments.

Monday night's 3-2 vote to approve the fueling station was the second split vote it has received. Councilors Jeremy Pietzold and Phil Moyer had previously announced they would be out of town and unavailable Monday.

At a recent Planning Commission meeting, the fuel station was denied by a 3-3 vote, with commissioner Nancy Szofran absent. The council heard the case Monday on appeal.

Monday's split vote was difficult for councilors present, because they had to interpret the intent of the city's zoning code.

Those voting in favor (Mayor Bill King and councilors Lois Coleman and Olga Gerberg) believed the station was similar in nature to other uses permitted by the code in industrial zones.

Those voting against the proposal (councilors Dave Beitler and Carl Exner) believed the station did not match the intent of the industrial zone.

Exner said he has been watching what he called 'zone creep,' and wants to maintain enough industrial land instead of giving it all away to commercial uses.

Beitler wondered if it was more important to match the intent of the industrial zone by allowing only uses that are 'totally enclosed in a building' or to allow this use because there already is a fueling station in the industrial zone (Fred Meyer).

Council President Coleman said the code allows for flexibility because no one can predict what uses will be proposed in the future for any site.

Councilor Gerberg agreed with Coleman on the issue of flexibility and allowing uses similar in nature to those specifically permitted.

Mayor King, who wants the city to be business friendly, said the code gives the council the latitude to use its best judgment.

Even though Exner made his case for holding to the letter of the law, he also expressed a concern about how the city would be perceived.

Beitler also was torn, thinking the list of permitted uses should be consistent with the statement of intent for the industrial zone - but, at the same time, realizing there is an identical use (Fred Meyer) the city recently allowed in the same zone.

One thing all councilors agreed upon was that no matter what decision they make, there would be some people angry at their choice.

Those people now have a window of 21 days after the mayor signs the order to decide whether or not to file an appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals for final judgment.