Council hears the report of a task force whose members studied the issue

A task force’s ideas about how the city of Sandy should relax its zoning restrictions received a hero’s welcome from the City Council on Monday night. The purpose of the zoning changes was to make it easier for some businesses to establish or expand.

Councilors and city staff wanted to see more of the empty storefronts filled with businesses, said Jeremy Pietzold, councilor and task force chairman.

The council gave the zoning-change ordinance a unanimous thumbs-up vote on its first reading.

The task force, appointed by the council, spent many hours over several months talking about what changes would improve the chances that a business owner would not find a discouraging roadblock when he or she was deciding if the proposed business could be successful.

One of the areas that garnered the most discussion in the task force was allowing some retail activity in the I-2 (light industrial and manufacturing) zone.

By the time the group was finished talking about that new idea, its members had compromised at allowing up to 35 percent of a business’ square footage be dedicated to retail product sales, while the rest of the area reserved for manufacturing products.

Comments during the public hearing were mainly in favor of the proposed zoning revisions. But everyone admitted that the ordinance was a compromise.

Pietzold said the task force members were a good mix representing the diverse views of the entire community. And that made compromise a necessity.

“We worked together, unlike Congress,” he said with a laugh, “to find common ground.”

Several people at the council meeting suggested the proposed ordinance revisions were a good start, but they wanted the zoning code reviewed in a couple of years to see how it is working and determine if it needs more work.

“We don’t know yet whether we went too far or not far enough,” said Councilor Dave Beitler, a member of the task force. “We need a couple of years, probably, to have businesses come into town and (the owners) look at this and say, ‘I can do this or I can’t do that.’”

At a council meeting in the near future, the ordinance will be read again, more testimony could be heard, and another vote will be counted.

For more information, call Planning Director Tracy Brown at 503-668-4886 or Pietzold at 503-310-7714.

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