The Astoria City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved new building rules in the Urban Core section of the Riverfront Vision Plan guiding development along the Columbia River.

The Urban Core, a swath of downtown and waterfront properties between Second and 16th streets, is the last of four sections of the Riverfront Vision Plan. City councilors have approved new development rules for Bridge Vista in Uniontown, the Civic Greenway east of downtown and the Neighborhood Greenway in Alderbrook.

Urban Core

City codes for the Urban Core restrict development over the river.

The rules downtown largely limit development over piling fields and existing docks to the height of the riverbank to protect views, while allowing redevelopment of existing waterfront buildings.

The City Council concurred with the Planning Commission’s recommendation of a 28-foot, two-story limit on buildings over the water — or up to 35 feet, or three stories, for water-dependent uses.

The rules preserve an 80-foot view corridor along the Astoria Riverwalk, along with 70 feet along streets. Buildings within 100 feet of the Riverwalk corridor may rise to 35 feet, and to 45 feet, or four stories, farther inland.

The City Council and the Planning Commission, recognizing downtown as an area meant for more permissive development, made several concessions to property owners worried about how to maintain their buildings.

They conditionally allowed hotels in existing buildings over water, along with medical and professional offices in new or old buildings over water. They also removed specific limitation zones on docks slated for development and allowed seafood processing north of the Astoria Riverfront Trolley tracks.

A separate motion by the City Council converted nearly 14 acres of tourist-oriented zones to more general commercial. The city argued the tourism zones, needed in more difficult economic times to spur development, are no longer necessary.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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