Make the McKenzie Connection!

Business options aired

FINN ROCK: Last Monday night, Lane County staffers fielded questions about economic development and zoning regulations. In the more than hour-long session in the McKenzie Schools gym questions ranged from general topics to specific details that could impact individual business recoveries.

A topic in that second category concerned re-placing business structures that had been lost in the Holiday Farm Fire.

Asked if a different type of business could replace one that burned, Maryanne Note, the county's Holiday Farm Permit Navigator, said it wasn't likely a flower shop could replace what had been a restaurant without going through the special permit process. Unlike a straight replacement process, where the county has waived replacement fees, a special use permit comes with a $2,756 fee. In addition to reviews by Lane County Public Works that would range from blueprint details to neighborhood impacts, the process would also include a public hearing where neighbors could comment.

Another question, involving a structure with multiple store fronts, wasn't as easy to answer, Note admitted. Under the proposal, a building might contain several individual retail or business spaces that the property owner could lease out to house anything from a dentist office to a pet store. She wasn't aware of any outright prohibition on that type of operation. "If you're in a rural commercial zone you can pretty much do anything you can think of that isn't industrial," Note said. She suspected a multiple store front too would involve letting people "be aware of what's taking place on that property."

The $15.7 million approved by Oregon in the last legislative session was targeted on water and wastewater management in the McKenzie Valley. Community and Economic Development Manager Austin Ramirez said those funds would be overseen by Lane County and are primarily targeted on building a combined water/wastewater municipal system in Blue River.

Ramirez said he experts the county will receive those funds soon and its first order of business will be contracting with a water/wastewater engineering firm to help design the new infrastructure.

Questioned about when a septic system would be operational he admitted the work could take several years. In the interim, there have been suggestions that business owners could construct septic tanks to get up and running, utilizing a "modular" approach that would later try into the towns sewage lines.

Another part of the state's allocation will go to the Eugene Water & Electric Board, which has been help fund people who replace residential septic tanks. Ramirez told people that program is not limited to properties within EWEB's service area but is available to other portions of the McKenzie Valley.

Note said people who want to meet her in person can find her from 10 a,m. to 3 p.m. at the new gym at McKenzie Schools. She also has office hours every Thursday at the Leaburg Fire Station from 9:30 a.m. until noon.


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