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Scappoose won't rezone school district property

School officials make case to retain commercial viability of district properties


by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Joe Lewis, member of the Scappoose School District Board of Directors, requested the city of Scappoose not rezone the district's property from commercial to public lands as it could potentially decrease the land's property value. The Scappoose City Council moved Tuesday, Jan. 21, to approve a comprehensive plan map and zone change application to amend the city’s zoning map so that sites being used as public lands will receive a zoning designation to that end.

The council additionally adopted an ordinance codifying the amendments to the comprehensive plan and zoning map.

Initially, the application included Scappoose School District property, though the City Council ultimately excluded the school district’s properties from the zone change after hearing requests from district officials.

Fifteen of the 17 proposed zone changes in the application — excluding school district properties — will go before council for final approval at its next meeting, Feb. 3.

Representatives from the Scappoose School District appeared at the meeting to express concerns that the rezoning of its properties from general commercial to public lands could affect the sites’ property values should the school district ever decide to sell specific parcels.

Joe Lewis, member of the Scappoose School District Board of Directors, said he was mostly concerned about the proposed Scappoose Middle School rezone.

“If it’s possible, we should not rezone the land that the middle school is on in order to retain its value for the possible future development for the benefit of our community,” Lewis said.

Stephen Jupe, superintendent of the Scappoose School District, said the middle school was of major concern due to its location on Highway 30. Jupe added that, although the district is not currently planning on selling the property, its future is still undetermined.

“Education changes all the time for us and future planning is vital to the health of the school district,” Jupe said. “Maintaining the flexibility and the option for flexibility is very important in order to be creative in planning.”

Although the middle school was of higher concern, he would like all the district’s schools to remain zoned commercial, Jupe said.

Len Waggoner, a Scappoose resident and land developer, said Scappoose Middle is the city’s only major commercially zoned property along the highway.

“There’s about 840,000 feet — plus or minus — on that site, which would hold 400 apartments,” Waggoner said. “Scappoose is obviously in the process of trying to get an airport area zone change and eventually an annexation for a lot of jobs and, eventually, there’s gonna be a demand for housing, and housing is one of the things that fits commercial zoning.”

Waggoner said if the land was rezoned for public use, there would likely be no prospective buyers should the district attempt to sell it.

While most councilors agreed with Councilor Barbara Hayden’s motion to approve the zone change while keeping the school district’s properties zoned commercial, Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge dissented.

“I’m going to vote against it only because I feel it should just be the middle school property, but I support the concept that the school district should have control over what their properties are doing,” Burge said.

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