Feb 7, 2007

Council Work Session: Density, Zoning Change Rules

Last night's city council work session agenda addressed three topics.
1.Opportunities to downzone selected areas
2. General Procedures for claims against the city
3. Changes to notification procedures for Type 1 land use decisions & Zoning map changes.

I'll discuss topic #3 first. Based on criticism by Troutdale residents regarding lack of notice for a lot line adjustment and zoning map change on the Sedona Park case, the city council agreed to require notice to surrounding neighbors for future lot line adjustments. We also agreed that the Planning Director's discretion under current Development Code rules to determine the exact line between zones was too vague. So in the future, ANY change in the zoning map, whether 5 square feet or 5 square miles, would be considered a Type IV land use procedure, requiring the full meal deal of public process: Notification, Planning Commission hearing, City Council hearing.

Topic 1-opportunities to downzone selected areas: This was a continuation of the city council's goal to reduce overall density in Troutdale. At the work session, we discussed several different properties and how to approach the issue of downzoning with the respective property owners. We agreed that any downzoning of property would only be done with the express agreement of the property owner. I'll have more to report on this issue next month.

Topic 2- general procedures for claims against the city: city staff wanted a review of general procedures to follow when someone makes a claim against the city i.e. broken sidewalks, blocked sewer lines causing damages, slip and fall, etc. The current procedure is to refer all claims to our insurer, City County Insurance Services (CCIS) for disposition of all claims. If CCIS determines the city was negligent, it covers any claims. If the city determines the city was not negligent, it will deny the claim. City staff wanted to know what to do with claims when CCIS and city staff feel the city wasn't negligent. The city council agreed that the current system was working fine- for claims not covered by CCIS, we would defer to city staff for disposition of the claim unless the dollar amount reached a certain point, at which time staff should refer the issue to the city council. We didn't decide on the dollar amount last night but discussed small claims limits, potential legal fees, etc. City staff will bring us some options on a dollar amount threshhold at a future work session.

Finally, City Attorney Marnie Allen formally announced her resignation. She's going to work full time for school districts in Washington State. She's an expert on municipal law, always goes above and beyond the call of duty in anticipating and responding to city staff and council concerns, has a tremendous work ethic, and is a pleasure to work with. She will be sorely missed. Thanks for your many years of service, Marnie.

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