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Group moves to acquire new permit for Robinwood Station

Members will not appeal planning director's decision to require permit


by: TIDINGS FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Volunteer Amy Schauer shovels soil from a plant bed at Robinwood station back in January.In an ongoing effort to keep Robinwood Station community center up and running, Friends of Robinwood Station attended a pre-application meeting June 6 for the conditional use permit required for continued use of the station past June 28.

The meeting — which was attended by City Planner Tom Soppe and Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester, among others — went "very well," according to FORS President Randall Fastabend, and the group is now focusing on completing the CUP application as soon as possible.

"We're encouraged," Fastabend said. "We've got a road map to progress and get it done."

FORS volunteer Jack Norby will be in charge of filling out the application, and though he said it will only take a matter of hours, the process will be delayed a bit by a public notice policy.

Any resident within 500 feet of the Robinwood Station must be notified of FORS's plans at a publicly noticed meeting, but it was too late to add it to the agenda at this week's neighborhood meeting. As such, Norby said the required public notice likely won't happen until the next scheduled meeting in July.

The CUP application cannot be deemed complete without public notice.

"We've got to make sure the noise doesn't become a bothersome thing," Norby said. "Just 'living the neighborhood' kinds of things."

FORS originally asked the city to reinterpret the community development code, questioning whether a CUP was needed at all for use of the station to continue. Because the station was originally approved as a fire station with a “meeting room,” FORS argued that a community center fell under that original development guideline.

When Planning Director John Sonnen denied that interpretation, Fastabend said the group planned to appeal the decision. The plan changed, however, when the city was notified that there would be no such appeal.

"We still don’t agree with (Sonnen's decision), but on the other hand what does it matter, if we’re going to go for a CUP?" Norby said. "If we find that we need to (appeal) down the road, we can do that, I suppose. But why bother? I’d rather work with them."

Thus, FORS will go ahead and apply for a CUP. The matter has been tentatively scheduled for discussion with the city council during a July 1 work session, and in the meantime FORS attended the pre-application meeting and now turns its attention to the formal application process.

"We're just interested in making sure it's open for community use," Norby said.

With the intention of forming a permanent community center, FORS in 2010 acquired approval from the city council to manage Robinwood Station in cooperation with the city’s parks and recreation department. When the city issued a temporary use permit in 2011, the understanding was that FORS would apply for a CUP within a year.

That didn’t happen, and FORS was granted an extension through June 2013. Because the community development code allows temporary use permits to last for a maximum of just two years, FORS’s continued use of the station is contingent on a permanent CUP.

Worcester, for his part, has played an active role in community center's development from the beginning, but says the onus is on FORS to become a more stable fixture in the community.

"We can't put any more money into it until they're legal, at least in my opinion," Worcester said. "I've given them about as much as I can without further guidance."

The application process generally takes about four months, and the station may have to close temporarily in the meantime.

The Robinwood Station is located at 3706 Cedaroak Drive. For more information about the center, visit robinwoodstation.org.



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