Townhomes Developer Loses Zoning Fight

The Canby City Council finally got the chance to weigh in on a planning fight that has been waged for months between the developer who wanted to build a 38-unit townhome project on the corner of 13th and Ivy, and the neighboring residents who opposed it. The council ultimately rejected the zone change that would have allowed the Canby Townhomes project to go forward, after an exhausting public meeting Wednesday that spanned nearly four hours.

This 2.5 acre lot has a long and complicated planning history in Canby. Back in 2003, during the city’s comprehensive planning process, it was highlighted as a special area of concern. At the time, officials thought a convenience store or service station might be a good fit for the location, so they chose to give it a “placeholder” designation of commercial/residential zoning, C-R. This was confusing in and of itself, since neither a convenience store nor a service station are permitted uses under C-R.

But the designation was made, and somehow, along the way, the city’s maps were updated to reflect the property being zoned C-R. The actual zoning, which was still low-density residential, R-1, was dropped, and for 15 years, city planning staff communicated to the land owner and any prospective developers that the land was zoned C-R.

Councilor Tracie Heidt admitted that the history troubles her.

But other councilors felt differently. Councilor Sarah Spoon said that while she did “empathize” with the developer and any negative impact the city’s actions had made, it shouldn’t be what dictates their decision.

And Councilor Greg Parker said the decision, for him, was a simple one.

The final vote was unanimous. We’ve asked the developer, Butch Busse, of H&R Properties, for his thoughts on the city’s decision, but haven’t heard back yet. We’ll keep you posted.

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