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Possible zoning changes could impact Blue River

BLUE RIVER: Besides reconfiguring the way traffic passes through the community, Lane County planners have also been exploring ways changes to zoning might help Blue River area recovery efforts. At a public meeting last week people were encouraged to comment on three different community plans. Two focused on the “downtown” area from west to east along Blue River Drive up to the bridge. The third option extends from the bridge to the McKenzie Schools campus.

Under Alternative 1 (Downtown Flex) rebuilt homes and businesses would rely on individual septic systems instead of connecting to a proposed community sewer system. The flex term relates to proposed changes to Lane Coyunty’s Comprehensive Plan that would allow decreased minimum lot sizes that could accommodate more affordable housing like apartments, duplexes, cottage clusters, or second-floor housing above commercial buildings. To get there, Lane County would need to establish two new zoning districts. The first “Community Flex Use Zone,” would allow denser residential and commercial development than the current code allows. A new ““Community Residential Zone” calls for 1-acre lots on the rest of the residentially zoned properties.

A hotel would not be allowed because state law requires a connection to a community sewer system.

Alternative 2, called the “Blue River Drive Flex,” would involve building a municipal sewer system. Surveys have shown the area’s soils appear to be limited to a system capable of handling up to 2,500 gallons per day, enough to treat the outflow from about eight two-bedroom homes or limited commercial hookups. Because the drain field would be sited in the Blue River Par, some uses there would be impacted since roads or structures could be placed there.

Alternative 2 calls for Flex-Use zoning on the 16-acre Three Sisters Meadow property, adjacent to the McKenzie Community Track site. It would also allow ground-floor commercial structures in the downtown area, with second or third-floor housing. If additional parking space is needed, it would have to be accommodated behind buildings.

The third alternative, “Downtown Commercial,” would give a community wastewater system some additional capacity by siting another drain field on the Three Sisters Meadow site. Soils there seem to be limiting the capacity of another drain field to about 2,500 gallons per day.

If a Flex-Use Zone is applied to the Three Sisters Meadow, new roads might be built to serve development in a new Community Commercial Zone.

“We have been working with community stakeholders and state partners for several months to gather information and ideas to guide the creation of the draft concepts,” said Lane County’s assistant planning director, Lindsey Eichner. “We are excited to bring these ideas to the larger community and start to refine what their vision is for the future of Blue River.”

Lane County is encouraging people to participate in the planning process by logging on to a virtual workshop that will remain open until November 20. The Virtual Workshop includes access to the draft alternatives, maps, diagrams, handouts, and tools for submitting comments. To learn more, go to:


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