Zoning laws can be subject to change


I would like to address some issues of April 22 (see page 1) in a positive way.

It is a fact that any law or ordinance (especially zoning ordinances) is going to be a benefit to most people, but not all.

The issue at this meeting was the request ot have another family unit live in your home, and a second family unit (the owner) live in a recreational vehicle on the same property in a R-1 single family zone.

As one serves (voluntarily) on commissions or councils, there is great care given to avoid personal interests or preferences, conflicts of interest, or exparte information, and to try to make decisions based on information presented in a public meeting.

Ordinances are prepared and written in public meetings, hopefully with public input; and they are designed to allow the city to grow in an orderly manner, protecting the rights and expectation of people in different “zones.” An R-1 zone permits the construction of single family residences with duplexes allowed on corner lots. While this may be contrary to some wishes, it also protects the rights and expectations of others living in or buying property in that zone.

The City Council made the right decision to uphold the zoning laws as currently written. If individuals do not agree with a current law, there are appropriate ways to have input and even change laws, though it may be time-consuming and involve legal counsel, public meetings, hearings, etc.

There were expressed concerns that our zoning ordinances would “drive people out of town.” In reality, most of our zoning ordinances have great similarity to those of other communities in the state of Oregon.

It is not uncommon when there is an issue, to invite many others with similar interests and concerns to a public meeting, sometimes making the emotions one-sided. This clearly does not represent the public as a whole and makes the decision-making process more difficult.

The Planning Commission had previously denied this request, based on the ordinance as it is written. It was appealed to the City Council.

Ignoring the ordinance would invite any property owner in an R-1 zone to park a trailer or RV in their yard (front, side or rear) and have it occupied by a second family unit.

The question is, would most people living in an R-1 zone want this?

We have discussed some infrequent but similar arrangements, particularly as they have applied to medical hardships. These have been exceptions, when there has been a clearly defined medical hardship, confirmed by the medical profession, and a genuine need for a caretaker to be close.

Medical hardship cases have been temporary, with regular periodic review and termination when the need is no longer there. There are similarities, but distinct differences in these types of requests.

I believe that I can truthfully say that most commission and council members are serving with the intent to make Sweet Home a more desirable place to live, and we always welcome public input and support.

Henry B. Wolthuis

Member, Planning Commission