'Flexibility' is the key request to Land Conservation and Development CommissionLocal officials and citizens had largely positive comments for members of the Land Conservation and Development Commission at a roundtable discussion Wednesday in Astoria, although some said they would appreciate help in simplifying some lengthy and technical development rules.

Several officials from communities in Clatsop and Tillamook counties attended the discussion, which was part of a three-day gathering by the state land-use commission in Astoria that winds up Friday.

Something that small communities would appreciate, the commission members heard, is flexibility. Astoria City Planner Rosemary Johnson said that with the decline of the fishing and timber industries, the city has staked much of its future on revitalizing its waterfront with mixed-used developments, but still grapples with state rules requiring minimum amounts of land to be set aside for industrial use. LCDC has helped, she said, by calculating how much industrial land the city needs to keep available.

Manzanita City Manager Jerry Taylor said small towns like his need some flexibility when it comes to state planning rules requiring communities to accommodate new development within their urban growth boundaries. Manzanita, he noted, is bounded by the ocean on one side and forest on the other, and hemmed in between two other communities.

LORI ASSA - The Daily Astorian

LCDC members and others listen to Astoria Riverfront Trolley conductor and Astoria Public Works Director Mitch Mitchum, left, during a tour of Astoria Wednesday. Astoria City Council member Joyce Compere, center, and LCDC member Margaret Kirkpatrick, behind Compere, were among those touring. "If we were required to provide for more growth within the urban growth boundary, the only way to go is up," he said. "If we're required to go up, that would change the character of the community.

Lane Shetterly, director of the Department of Land Conservation and Development, responded that the statewide planning rules do provide more flexibility than many people realize, although many of those provisions are hidden in "subsections of subsections of rules" that can be difficult to find. As part of an overall clean-up of the state rules, the commission hopes to highlight some of those provisions, he said.

LCDC Chairman John VanLandingham said the push to convert old industrial land to more lucrative uses like condominiums could be short-sighted, pointing to the resurgence of the sardine industry in Astoria.

Clatsop County Commission Chairwoman Helen Westbrook said while the county recently completed periodic review, the lengthy process of updating its comprehensive land-use plan, the plan itself remains "in disarray," and asked the commission for help in re-working it into a more usable form.

Shetterly said the department is embarking on a project to clean up and streamline the statewide planning rules that, over the three decades since their original adoption, have been saddled with new statutes, policy changes by commission members and staff, and court rulings. "Every one of those decisions was well-intentioned, but over 30 years, you have a good layer of complexity over the system," he said.

The process will allow the commission to re-affirm the original planning goals but also "clear out the underbrush that has built up over 30 years," he said.

Warrenton Planning Director Patrick Wingard said coming to Oregon from another state, he feels fortunate to work with a land-use system that's known around the country. The state land-use rules provide support for local planners administering their cities' and counties' own regulations, he said.

"This land-use program is Oregon's 'brand,'" he said.

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