The Astoria City Council shot down a proposed ordinance Monday that would have imposed new regulations on garages and other so-called accessory structures in residential neighborhoods.

"Mr. Bartlett, what would be the

best way to kill this thing?" Mayor

Willis Van Dusen asked City Manager

Dan Bartlett after about 45 minutes of comments from the public and discussion by

the council - all of it negative.

"I'm not in favor of having a reading or sending it back for further work."

At the city attorney's suggestion, a motion was made to hold first reading of the ordinance. When the motion died for lack of a second, the ordinance was pronounced dead.

"I didn't hear one positive comment from anyone during the public hearing, any council members or anyone on staff. It talked about limiting the size of a building on your property, it talked about making people cut their hedges lower than they're used to, it talked about design review with the siding and the roofing materials - it was just bound to be defeated and I think we're done with it," Van Dusen said afterward.

The ordinance, which would have amended the city's building code, was proposed by the Astoria Planning Commission after members became concerned about a resident's request to build a 20-car garage on his property in the Alderbrook neighborhood, said Todd Scott, the city's community development director.

The request, which was opposed by neighbors, was denied. But City Planner Rosemary Johnson said the man was still able to build an extremely large building that was out of character with the neighborhood.

During public testimony, Bob Erickson called that a "knee-jerk" reaction to an isolated problem. He said a lot his property rights had been eroded by design review requirements in historic areas.

"My biggest concern is design review, which is being snuck into this ordinance," he said. "You're telling people what they can do with their property again."

"I don't need to regulate everything," said Tim Welker, a California resident who owns a house on Sixth Street and plans to move back to Astoria. "If you have too many restrictions, people will move somewhere else," he warned.

The ordinance would have restricted the height of hedges, leading Councilor Loran Mathews to ask when a hedge becomes a tree, a murky area which yielded no specific answers. Mathews and other council members and citizens also questioned the 820-square foot maximum for an accessory structure, no matter the size of the house on the property.

In the end, the naysayers won the day, and the ordinance bit the dust.


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