Wilsonville City Council fine-tunes residential design standards for historic neighborhood

In a city growing at a breakneck rate, Wilsonville's Old Town has remained a pocket of minimal development, maintaining the same look and feel it had 40 years ago and beyond. But with the times ever changing, the Wilsonville City Council is working to finalize single-family and duplex design standards that have been in the works for more than six years.

At the Oct. 2 City Council work session, Senior Planner Daniel Pauly and Project Manager Zoe Anton updated the council on the standards. Pauly said that the standards are meant to identify the "essence of Old Town" while providing guidance for homeowners and developers to maintain its style of older, small-scale buildings with simple design connected by streets with a "rural feel," preferably without sidewalks.

In 2011, the City Council accepted but never adopted the Old Town Neighborhood Plan, which called for the City's Development Code to set design standards for single-family homes. At that time, the Old Town Neighborhood Association worked closely with the City on development of the plan, which includes an "architectural pattern book." These recommendations apply to duplexes, additions, remodels, garages, new construction and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) of single-family homes.

The standards include three architectural styles: Western farmhouse, Craftsman and Ranch. Staff also noted that duplexes should look indistinguishable from other single-family homes in the neighborhood, besides having multiple entrances.

Since there isn't currently a homeowners' association in Old Town, any design enforcement falls to the City when developments and remodels are reviewed during the permitting process. But staff said that the standards will be guidelines to make sure that remodels and development won't conflict with the existing look and feel of the neighborhood rather than a list of approved materials and designs that will box people into cookie-cutter design.

The design standards in the Old Town Neighborhood Plan were last updated in 2014 to include criteria for ADUs but didn't include their design standards, such as size and whether or not they can be added to above garages. Since then, the Old Town Neighborhood Plan has not been enforced, leading the current council to review the previous plan and design standards while making tweaks of their own.

Pauly said that the plan won't change the zoning but that ADUs will need to meet design standards and must be lower than the primary or existing buildings and their maximum size can't exceed 600 square feet.

But since Old Town is an established neighborhood, Councilor Charlotte Lehan and Council President Scott Starr wondered how these standards would impact existing residences, some of which are manufactured home and

have ADUs outside of the standards.

"To come in after it's already developed... I'm kind of concerned and it seems kind of strange that we're doing this," Council President Scott Starr said. "I'm just making sure that we're not overstepping."

"We don't want to be there out patrolling like an HOA would," Pauly said. "Our goal is to keep (design guidelines) simple."

City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said that since the Old Town neighborhood doesn't have an HOA, the City worked in collaboration with the Old Town Neighborhood Association to come up with the design standards. But once the design standards are in place, nothing will radically change.

"We don't typically enforce," Pauly said. "It would have to get pretty bad."

Contact Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Claire Green at 503-636-1281 ext. 113 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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