Albany City Hall

Albany City Hall

Ashley Smith, Democrat-Herald

The Albany City Council on Wednesday approved an Albany Development Code Zoning Map amendment designed to improve commerce and quality of life in central Albany.

The zoning map changes allow for mixed use zones, while restricting some industrial operations. While all councilors voted in favor, councilor Rich Kellum expressed concerns the amendments would be restrictive to some forms of business, particularly manufacturing.

Citing Bo Mack's barbecue sauce as a manufacturer, he said he understood why some more industrial manufacturers would be prohibited because of the noise and shipping traffic, but wondered if the changes would ultimately hurt places such as Bo Mack's that are technically manufacturing properties. He said he would vote for it while grumbling, only because he can "see the light at the end of the tunnel," in terms of how the amendments would ultimately improve the downtown area.

North Albany resident Tom Cordier later addressed the council, talking about Senate Bill 719, which lets law enforcement or citizens obtain a court order to confiscate deadly weapons from any person that could be deemed mentally unstable. Cordier expressed concern that the new law would let anyone, maybe out of spite, make a claim against a person, with or without merit, in order to have that person's weapons taken away.

Kellum made the point that the law doesn't specifically mention guns, but weapons in general, and cautioned that the law, absent action to better define its parameters, could lead to potentially arbitrary action. Mayor Sharon Konopa said she would have City Manager Peter Troedsson look into the issue.

The council also finalized their decision to deny a zone change that would have allowed a Portland developer to build a mixed use commercial property along Hickory Street in North Albany. Developer James Winkler originally had plans for a 48-unit apartment complex on the two-and-a-quarter acres, which he will still be permitted to build, but when he proposed a zone change to allow mixed-use commercial, the locals came out against him. Before finally voting, councilor Ray Kopczynski said the decision "classically smacks of the pure definition of 'Not in My Backyard,' so I'm going to vote no."

The motion carried 4 to 1.

Contact reporter Neil Zawicki at 541-812-6099 or neil.zawicki@lee.net

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