Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Planning commission will revisit red tape project


Work session scheduled for Oct. 30

After a 4-2 vote Oct. 2 against recommending the approval of the red tape code and process streamlining project, the planning commission will revisit the issue during a work session scheduled for Oct. 30.

In the aftermath of the Oct. 2 vote, Planning Commission Chairman Michael Babbitt and Vice Chairwoman Christine Steel met with West Linn Mayor John Kovash and City Council President Mike Jones at city hall Oct. 14 to discuss the commission’s stance on the project, which officially kicked off in April and is a key facet of the city’s effort to foster economic development in its commercial areas. The meeting was productive, according to Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt, and both parties agreed that it would be best for the planning commission to revisit the amendments and revise its recommendation in the coming weeks. Because the commission never made or approved a direct motion to not recommend the project’s approval, deliberations technically remain open, according to Babbitt.

“After having a couple meetings with the city council and city staff on the best way to move forward, it was determined that there are still a few items the planning commission would like to take up,” Babbitt said at the Oct. 16 planning commission meeting. “And there are a few items we would like to involve neighborhood association presidents with.”

Thus, at its Oct. 30 work session the commission will invite West Linn Economic Development Committee Chairwoman Gail Holmes and West Linn Neighborhood Association Presidents group chairman Jef Treece to provide input on the project. From there, the commission will work to finalize its review and set a date for a hearing to make a final recommendation.

“They will go and take a couple more weeks to reconsider, and add and remove items,” Wyatt said. “And then they’ll send it back to the council and have them do more outreach.”

The city council was originally scheduled to discuss the project during its Oct. 21 meeting, but cleared the item from the agenda to allow the planning commission time to deliberate further.

“The planning commission seems to understand that this is a key council goal,” Wyatt said. “Our goal is to make sure people understand that this project is meant to promote efficiency and economic development. The council and planning commission are very close to finding a package they can all agree on.”

Such was not the case as recently as three weeks ago. Though in March the city council listed community development code amendments among its top priorities for 2013, the planning commission came away frustrated with the way the proposed amendments were packaged and presented to the public back in August.

“The consistent theme in the outreach had everything to do with economic development and bridging gaps between business and the city,” Babbitt said at the Oct. 2 meeting. “Well, everything I read in this code, that’s not what it does. This doesn’t seem transparent to me.”

Bringing in the neighborhood associations and an economic development committee representative may alleviate some of those concerns about outreach and transparency.

“(The planning commission and city council) are more alike than they are different,” Wyatt said. “The issues are mostly related to process.”