Sunshine gets green light from planners

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for Sunshine Industries to construct a new facility off Clark Mill Road Monday night.

The 6-0 decision included a provision for three one-year phases to complete the project because funding has yet to be secured.

Sunshine recently purchased the 2.3-acre medium-density residential property, 1333 Clark Mill Road, from Fun Forest for $105,000. The property is located across the street from the Melcher Logging headquarters.

Sunshine proposes to replace its existing facility, 3714 Long St., where it has been since opening in the 1970s. The existing building is deteriorating, and Sunshine needs more space. Since 2001, Sunshine Industries has grown from 28 clients to 60.

Sunshine is a special needs adult center, said board President Chuck Thompson. The nonprofit organization provides developmentally disabled adults with basic life skills training, socialization, vocational training and paid employment.

“Part of our mission is to enrich the lives of the developmentally disabled,” he said. “One of our challenges in Sweet Home is our clients cannot find employment in the area.”

Sunshine Industries puts them to work and pays them for a wide variety of tasks, from local janitorial services to projects in the shop, such as making bands for shingle bundles for Lester Sales or cutting blocks for rubber stamps for a Portland firm. Every client at Sunshine earns a paycheck.

The new buildings will cost $700,000 to $800,000, Thompson said. Sunshine lost one funding source it had hoped to tap, the Community Development Block Grant program, because its clients are paid for their work. This means that Sunshine will have to rely on private sources, such as the Meyer Memorial Trust, the Ford Family Foundation, the Grand Ronde tribe and local donors.

Local donations are important, he said, because many of the grants Sunshine could access require matching funds.

The funding issue will likely mean the project must be completed in phases, Thompson said. “We think it’s going to take us maybe three years to complete the project.”

He hopes to have the first phase under way next summer with the construction of the basic infrastructure, he said. He hopes to break ground in June.

The Planning Commission agreed to allow three-year phasing of the project and to require only 25 parking spaces.

Community Development Director Carol Lewis said it was difficult to calculate the number of required parking spaces because Sunshine Industries is difficult to categorize.

Thompson told the commission that the maximum number of spaces that would be used would be 22, counting every staff member driving to work, up to two clients driving, visitors and government officials arriving during that time.

“If all the stars were aligned and everybody showed up at one time, we might fill this number,” he said.

Voting to approve the conditional use permit were Alan Culver, Michael J. Adams, Eva Jurney, Greg Stephens, Anay Hausner and Dr. Henry Wothuis. Lance Gatchell was absent.