DEPOE BAY — Most of the proposed changes to Depoe Bay’s zoning ordinances meant to bring local child care provider Neighbors for Kids into compliance were approved during the ordinance’s first hearing at the city council’s regular meeting Tuesday night.

There will be another hearing at the council’s April 20 meeting before any of the changes are put into effect. Parts of the ordinance regarding other uses in the city’s light industrial zone were rejected and will be further considered during the revision of the city’s comprehensive plan.

After a motion and second from councilors Lindsy Bedingfield and Fran Recht, sections A, B, C and up to sub section P of section D of the revisions were approved, while all other subsections of D and section E were not.

If approved at the second hearing, the proceeding sections would provide definitions for the term “child care” to the city’s zoning ordinances and allow conditional use permits for child care in the city’s retail commercial zone and light industrial zone.

The unapproved portion of the revisions outlined in section D would have allowed any conditional uses permitted in the city’s retail commercial zone to also be allowed under conditional use in the light industrial zone, not just child care.

A letter from Valerie Sovern, read before discussion, asked the councilors not to accept section D of the revisions and urged the city to communicate with citizens better about the subject before revisiting it. Sovern criticized the lack of information available to the public, stating that the minutes from the city’s planning commission are not readily available on the city’s website.

Before beginning discussion, Councilor Jerome Grant declared a potential conflict of interest as an owner of property in the city’s light industrial zone. Grant said he has submitted no plans to develop the properties in the zone and said none of his decisions would be affected by the change.

Grant argued against passing the motion without the excluded sections and advocated for the opportunity to expand the use of light industrial zoned land in the city.

“I don’t think the light industrial versus commercial land in this city was well thought out to begin with,” Grant said. “We’ve got areas in the city that were zoned for light industrial, but geographically aren’t appropriate.”

Grant said the change would give the future leaders of Depoe Bay more options for what can be allowed in light commercial zones, but Bedingfield argued that such the excluded changes would be more appropriately discussed when looking at the city’s comprehensive plan.

“I think Councilor Grant brought up a really good argument for updating our comprehensive plan. Those are some good issues that were brought up, but we as elected officials need to give our population a better chance to weigh in,” Bedingfield said. “We really do not have a single finding of fact or law that would support this section of the ordinance that will be taken out if the motion passes.”

Recht added that it was important to get Neighbors for Kids’ immediate needs taken care of, and there will be plenty of time to examine the light industrial zone at a later time.

Other notable agenda items from the Tuesday meeting include:

• The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office presented its annual report for 2020 to the council before discussing a potential contract with the city for a patrol deputy. The estimated cost to contract a deputy for 40 hours of regular weekly coverage for the next year would be $169,741. The council approved a motion to continue exploring the idea.

• The council approved a transfer of city funds to the Local Government Investment Pool, which would generate $3,000 a month in interest instead of the $100 a month it currently generates.

• The council discussed correspondence from Sean and Lori Rietze asking that the council review its agreement with the Oregon Department of Transportation regarding Highway 101 improvements. The council discussed the project and its history, noting the scope and budget requirements have changed over the year, and the city may no longer be able to afford it. As correspondence, no action other than discussion could be taken, and members of the council expressed interest in looking into it soon.

• The council addressed correspondence from former city councilor Debbie Callender asking the council to consider code enforcement services to address several nuisance properties. It was suggested as another topic to cover during one of the council’s workshops this year.

• Scott Latimer was appointed to the Urban Renewal Budget Committee.

• Due to the Coast Guard being unable to participate, the annual Fleet of Flowers event on Memorial Day will be canceled this year.

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