At a Troutdale city council work session on December 13, we had a discussion with a developer who is interested in purchasing the Marino property in downtown Troutdale. This property is on Historic Columbia River Highway, right across the street from the Troutdale General Store.
A significant part of the Marino property burned to the ground in 2002 and has been mostly vacant ever since. It has been for sale since shortly after the fire. Many Troutdale property owners, merchants and even some city councilors have been pressing to have this block condemned by the city and acquired via eminent domain. My position has always been a loud NO to condemnation or eminent domain for this specific block.
The developers came to the work session to discuss what they believe are building code regulations that are too complicated. One of the developers said he didn't understand why some of the regulations were in place. Troutdale's Director of community development admitted he didn't know either.
The bottom line to this was the developers wanted some assurance from the city council that we could eliminate some of the more cumbersome rules before they committed to purchase the property. For example, one of these rules requires the dedication of nearly 20% of that downtown block to "open space".
So we said we would have city staff work something up for us to discuss and vote on.
Imagine that, the city and a developer working together in Troutdale. Imagine that, a piece of downtown property that may be improved without using eminent domain, condemnation, urban renewal, or tax increment financing.
This work session was a wake up call for me, though. I need to take the time to know our development and building codes more intimately. I have been studying only the portions of development codes or city ordinances as they come up on the next meeting agenda. It will be helpful to have a broad based, detailed knowledge of the entire development code.
It's time to crack the books, dive deep, and do some intensive wonk study. All secure, sir! Dive, Dive.