Landmarks Commission rejects compromise in dispute over Portway Tavern's windowsAnyone attending all of tonight's Astoria City Council meeting might want to bring a pillow.

The meeting, scheduled to begin at 7, includes three meaty topics in addition to housekeeping agenda items.

Key topics include:

• Members of Friends of the Column offering a plan to build an underground visitors' center at the Astoria Column.

• Safeway executives asking permission for their planned new store on the site of Hauke's Sentry Market to include a gas station.

• Bob Heilman returning with his appeals against the Historic Landmarks Commission's opposition to aspects of his window repairs at the Portway Tavern.

In a quarter-inch thick report to the city, Jordan Schnitzer of Portland, president of Friends of the Column, is proposing a visitors' center on the west side of the Column.

The action follows seven years of discussion and planning, including contentious meetings in the past three years in which city leaders have sought to address two elements: fears by residents that a large building would obstruct views and the belief that something needs to be done to better serve the 300,000 visitors who drive or walk up to the Column each year.

The City Council also is being asked to approve the Friends paying $29,610 for a temporary modular restroom to accommodate visitors until the center is built.

In other action, Safeway's request for the gas station is accompanied by plans to vacate two streets and an alley at the site at 33rd Street and Lief Erikson Drive on the east end of the city. The gas station isn't automatically permitted in a Commercial-3 zone, but city staff are recommending it be allowed as an "accessory" use to the grocery store.

The last controversy on the agenda is Heilman's long-running dispute over replacement windows at the tavern. After lengthy discussion Sept. 4, it was postponed to attempt a compromise between Heilman and the Landmarks Commission. The City Council referred the matter of a possible compromise to the commission.

A meeting of the Landmarks Commission Friday, though attended by only three members, resulted in a statement being issued which will be submitted to tonight's meeting. Assistant City Manager Paul Benoit said this morning that while commission members were pleased at the opportunity to learn details of a possible compromise, they found its details unsatisfactory.

The statement noted that the compromise idea tackles the depth issue but not the matter of size, style and materials. "The proposed mitigation does not replace those historic features that define and preserve the historic inrtegrity of the building," members concluded.

City Council members also will be asked to consider supporting a liquor license for Las Maracas, a new Mexican restaurant under the Astoria Bridge, and the sale of a steep city-owned lot assessed at about $13,000 to Renee Caldwell. It is north of her home at 88 W. Grand Ave., and she has told the city she wants to buy it to preserve her river view.

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