Group works for new conditional use permit

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Robinwood Station community center, at 3706 Cedaroak Drive, will stay open this summer, despite lacking the proper conditional use permit.Though its temporary use permit technically expired on June 23, the Robinwood Station community center will remain open for use throughout the summer as the Friends of Robinwood Station continues its work to acquire a new conditional use permit.

The West Linn City Council agreed during a July 1 special meeting to allow the community center to stay open, despite City Manager Chris Jordan’s admission that “technically we’re violating city law by keeping it open.”

The decision, Jordan said, ultimately falls to the city manager’s discretion, but he wanted to confer with the council before continuing to allow the center’s operation without a permit.

“At this point, I’m using prosecutorial discretion and not doing anything,” Jordan said. “Because I don’t believe the council would like me to ... and at this point that’s fine with me.”

The council members ultimately agreed once they were assured that the Friends group was, indeed, working to both obtain its permit and become more accountable for its finances.

According to the group’s spokesman, Jack Norby, the permit application had already been completed prior to the July 1 meeting, but the group had to wait for its next scheduled neighborhood meeting in August to fulfill a public notice policy.

A conditional use permit application cannot be deemed complete without public notice.

With the intention of forming a permanent community center, Friends of Robinwood Station in 2010 acquired approval from the city council to manage Robinwood Station, a former fire 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 the group would apply for a conditional use permit within a year.

That didn’t happen, and the Friends group 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, the continued use of the station is contingent on a permanent permit.

According to Jordan, it generally takes between 60 and 75 days for an application to be fully processed. Only after that can a planning commission hearing take place, which means the matter likely won’t be fully resolved until October or November.

In the meantime, the city will keep the center’s doors open and continue to pay about $150 per month for its utilities.

In return, councilors asked for more accountability from Friends of Robinwood Station and cited the Friends of McLean Park and House as an example to follow.

“For me, that’s the benchmark,” Councilor Thomas Frank said. “That is a group that works with the city very well. ... They are coming together with a budget to us. If they have a big expenditure, we know about it ahead of time and we can budget it as far as the city is concerned.”

Frank and other councilors were confused by the financial records provided by the group, and Norby said that was partially because there had been a recent switch in bookkeepers — and the previous one had been working with faulty numbers.

Norby himself will be in charge of bookkeeping going forward, and he agreed that communication with the city would have to be better in the future. He also added that the group hopes to eventually pay its own utility costs once a new permit is in place and revenue begins to generate.

Councilor Jenni Tan also suggested an increased effort to obtain community donations to the center.

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

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