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Overhaul proposed for city zoning regulations


Planning and zoning — Approved uses would be defined more by categories rather than specific listings under proposal being examined by city

The Newberg City Council got an update last week on a project the Planning and Building Department and planning commission have been working on for more than a year: the overhaul of the city’s somewhat obsolete and outdated zoning regulations.

Planning and Building Director Barton Brierley said the main goal of the revamp was to improve the Newberg Development Code’s “usability and effectiveness” as it pertains to zoning. He compared the current code to a mobile phone that has retained some archaic features, like a rotary dial.

“It’s got a lot of functionality, a lot of things you can do, but there are these parts attached to it that need a lot of updating,” Brierley said. “Like, for example, if you want to know where you can put a reducing salon or a fumigation chamber, the code talks about that. But if you want to know where to put a winery or a data center, it doesn’t really address that.”

The code’s list of approved uses includes more than 300 types of businesses (in 17 categories), some of them left over from when it was first drafted in the 1950s — like “blood banks” — others that are just poorly defined — like “clinics.” Brierley said some of the listed uses are also redundant or even contradictory.

Chapels and churches are listed separately, for example.

“It makes you think, ‘What’s the difference?’” he said. “Are there zones where you would approve one and not the other?”

Instead of simply refining and expanding the lists of uses, however, Brierley said the planning commission envisioned a more comprehensive redesign, which would replace the lists with broad categories that should not only be more flexible, but also have greater staying power than, say, reducing salons.

Under the proposal, currently approved uses like “billiards and pool halls,” “bowling alleys,” “dance halls,” “museums,” “movie theaters” and “skating rinks” will be condensed under the umbrella of “commercial indoor recreation” — a category that Brierley said could also include something like an arcade, which is not addressed by the code as it stands today.

Manufacturing uses will be categorized according to the types of processes used, rather than the end products.

“They moved away from what you’re manufacturing and looked more at how you’re doing the process,” Brierley said of planning commissioners.

A public hearing on the update has been set for Aug. 19. Brierley said he expects a good turnout and a large amount of public comment due to the interest in certain changes such as the expanded place of wineries (a use that is largely ignored under current regulations) and new restrictions on residential dumping.

Residents may contact the planning department at 503-537-1240 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.