New Zoning for Hood River Waterfront Approved by City Council
The Waterfront Refinement Plan was approved by the Hood River City Council at their December 22, 2014 meeting. Here is the adopted zoning code and map for the Waterfront Overlay area.
The new overlay represents a real improvement over previous code: it creates higher design standards for buildings at the waterfront, protects the waterside path (requires landscaping and expands setbacks for development), and changes the zoning along Nichols Basin to allow commercial development along the proposed new shoreline park. While it makes improvements, the new code allows more intensity of development within the Nichols Basin park area than we would have liked. HRVRC had pushed to retain more public open space in this area. For the rest of the waterfront, the Refinement Plan retains existing restrictive Light Industrial zoning. HRVRC sees the future of the waterfront not as a industrial business park but as a more dynamic mixed use zone where restaurants, low-impact manufacturers, offices, residential apartments and public recreation/park spaces create a lively, exciting neighborhood so we were disappointed that the variety of allowed uses was not expanded in this process. We also would have liked some environmental elements—like stormwater management—to be addressed as part of the plan. While the plan did not go as far as we would have liked, it is a good first step in the transformation of the waterfront.
Waterfront Refinement Process Kicks off in October 2014
The City and Port of Hood River have embarked on a Refinement Plan for the waterfront area along the Columbia and Hood Rivers. The Refinement Plan is a legislative effort where the City will adopt new zoning and craft code to guide the development of this important part of town for the next 20 years. Most of the land is owned by the Port of Hood River. In just the last few years, our waterfront has undergone a remarkable transformation. For decades the waterfront was the subject of controversy but almost no actual development. All that changed in 2008 with the creation of the terrific Waterfront Community Park followed quickly by a succession of new buildings housing manufacturers, offices and restaurants. Next up is the shoreline of Nichols Basin where construction will start early next year on a new park with a sandy beach and public walking trail . But then what next? The Waterfront Refinement Plan process is an opportunity to look hard at the waterfront and make decisions to guide its future development.
As always, the waterfront evokes strong feelings in our community. The stakes are high; the Port’s Lot 1 is the most visible and most valuable piece of undeveloped property in the city.
The Planning effort is a multi-step process. It started with an Advisory Committee of stakeholders and elected officials (HRVRC’s Executive Director served on the committee). The Committee met five times and arrived at some draft changes for Planning Commission review. The Planning Commission is scheduled to meet at 5:30 on Monday December 1. The Commission will take the Advisory Committee’s suggestions as the starting point for its deliberations but they are free to alter their suggestions. After the Planning Commission makes its decisions, the Plan then goes to the City Council for review and final decisions. The City Council hearing has been scheduled for December 15 at 6 pm).
At the Advisory Committee the most contentious issue was the correct mix of industrial, commercial and recreational uses at the Waterfront. The committee was divided on:
1) Whether to limit development to industrial uses or to allow “mixed use” which would include some amount of restaurant, retail and commercial office uses
2) How much commercial retail development was appropriate alongside or within the park at Nichols Basin
For more information on the planning process, schedule, proposed zoning maps and draft code, visit the City of Hood River’s website