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City rejects additional duplexes in Westwood
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KGBB Properties is seeking approval for the placement of up to seven new buildings for 14 duplexes in Westwood. The measure has been halted due to current city code not allowing it. Pictured is a duplex in Westwood on Morrison Street. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

A measure to allow additional duplexes in Westwood has been met with legal resistance.

The McMinnville Planning Commission met Tuesday to consider a preliminary plat review from KGBB Properties, the owners/ developers of 606 thru 612 Morrison Street.

Making the request was Gordon McGee Jr., the operation manager of KGBB.

“We’ve looked at expanding what we’ve been doing over there currently between Morrison Street and Sunburst,” said McGee. “We do have existing duplexes that have been there for 25 to 30 years, give or take. We’d like to place 12 to 14 new units within that property. We are asking you to look at expansion of a non-conforming use.”

Plans submitted to the city call for up to seven new buildings for a total of 14 duplex units.

The property is zoned Residential-1. Duplexes are not allowed in that zone. When the city established zoning restrictions, the duplexes were considered a nonconforming use. 

McMinnville Community Development director Nolan Ming says current code does not allow expansion of a nonconforming use in an R-1 area.

“Duplexes are not a permitted use in R-1 and are not permitted on appeal,” said Ming. “The existing duplexes are not harmonious with the surrounding areas. Expansion of this nonconforming use would only exacerbate disharmony. Expansion of nonconforming use is not permitted, specifically. I don’t know if that was out of error or omission or on purpose. I’m not sure.”

Code does allow expansion of nonconforming uses for industrial, commercial or business uses, but not residential nonconforming uses, says Planning Commission chair David Marttala.

“If you read the zoning code, there is a section that allows the expansion of nonconforming uses but the way it was written it only allows it for industrial, commercial or business uses. This is a residential use area. For whatever reason they did not include residential. When I looked this over before the meeting, it looks to me like it has tied our hands. If this had included residential, we could expand nonconforming use.”

McGee stated, “Is there a way we could get that changed?”

“It can be changed,” said Marttala. “You can request to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that the code be amended.”

Duplexes are allowed in R-2 residential zones. 

“I guess our next course of action would be to request rezoning,” said McGee. 

Planning Commission members consider rezoning requests and make recommendations to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. 

“If you make that request, and just speaking from experience in the past, sometimes that gets the neighbors attention,” he said. “Sometimes folks with single-family dwellings around you may come in a vehemently oppose those things. You have that right, though.”

Commission member Jim Brock stated a zoning change would eliminate the problem in its entirety, making the duplexes a conforming use. 

“Can we do this development if it’s changed to R-2?” asked Amie Hodges. 

Brock warned the developers about the state’s storm water restrictions if they change the zoning.

“If you can get your storm water worked out, you could,” said Brock. “If you get into that big of an area, the state requires a storm water report. We could do it in R-2. What if the storm water report comes back and says you need a 10,000 square foot retention pond? I’d check into feasibility of what the storm water might entail before I asked for R-2.”

Ming said, “I think the spot zoning question would come up.”

Spot zoning is the application of zoning to a specific parcel or parcels of land within a larger zoned area when the rezoning is usually at odds with a city’s master plan and current zoning restrictions.

McGee withdrew the petition for a preliminary plat review to expand the residential nonconforming use.