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City denies rezoning

The Oregon City Council denied a zoning change for a property on South Fifth Street Tuesday night.

As per a Sept. 19 recommendation by the Plan Commission, the council voted 4-1 not to change the zoning from residential to commercial highway business district for a large garage located at 707 S. Fifth St., Oregon.

The garage was put up two years ago by Tom Hartnett, owner of TNT Motor Sales, 800 S. Fourth St., Oregon. Hartnett said the building’s original purpose was to store two large campers owned by he and his mother.

Recently, he said he sought a zoning change on the property so that it can be used to fix up his cars, and those of the public, as part of business.

Several surrounding neighbors showed up to speak out against the change, citing concerns over poor maintenance of the house on the property and the garage’s bold colors.

“I appreciate your business, and the revenue you bring to the city, but I also understand the concerns of your neighbors,” said Commissioner Jim Barnes.

In other action, the council voted to approve another plan commission recommendation regarding the maintenance of residential parkways.

Going forward, residents will still be required to keep any grass and vegetation maintained and under six inches in length.

Barnes felt the ordinance was adding more things a citizen cannot do without permission.

“This is getting to be really too much government,” said Barnes. “It’s getting more like Chicago than it is Oregon.”

Mayor Ken Williams said the rule on length and maintenance was already the official code since the time Barnes was mayor, up through his own term, and that it simply wasn’t being strongly enforced.

“This was in the code when you approved it - probably in the code before. So, this isn’t something we’re changing, it’s just something we’re saying, ‘it’s time to enforce it,’” said Williams.

The council also approved a vote to amend the code, removing item C, which stated a citizen can request a variance from the code.

“We’re not removing a citizen’s actual ability to request a variance - one can ask for a variance on anything,” said Williams. “This is simply language that isn’t written into the other codes, and if we maintain it, we may run into a situation where we need to amend every other code to include it.”

Both the ordinance and the amendment passed with a 3-2 vote.

The council meets again on Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 115 N 3rd St.

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