Monday, April 16, 2018

Planning Commission to Consider School Bus Storage Lot Expansion

A current storage lot on Hawthorne NE - via Streetview
The Planning Commission meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 17th, and they'll be considering "A Class 3 Site Plan Review for development of a new storage facility for buses" as well as some associated zoning changes. (Agenda and Staff Report.)

31 new bus stalls + 34 new car stalls

Existing conditions - Pringle Creek Community, lower left
(this does not appear to show lot expansion from 2014)
The project is a surface lot expansion for bus storage for the School District. It's not really very interesting - ya gotta put the buses somewhere, right? - but there might be a few things to note.

The lot, on a parcel already owned by the School District, and in an existing industrial area with truck traffic, would be right across the street from the main entry for Pringle Creek Community and they aren't very excited. City Staff respond:
The comments indicate that the proposed industrial commercial designation is not consistent with the mixed-use residential designation of the former Fairview Training Center property which abuts the subject property, and that the proposed use of the property as a bus storage area will have a negative impact on uses in the surrounding area [ie, Pringle Creek Community].

The proposed IC zoning designation is consistent with the land use pattern along Fairview Industrial Drive SE, which has seen several zone changes from IBC to IC over the last decade. The proposed designation will allow the property to be developed with a wider range of industrial and commercial type uses than the current IBC zoning designation allows. While the subject property does abut the Fairview Mixed-Use Zone and the Pringle Creek Community, the subject property currently has an industrial land use designation and could allow for other more intensive industrial land uses.

The setback, landscaping and screening requirements of the zoning code help to buffer incompatible land uses. In this case, staff is recommending a condition of approval with the zone change application to require future development of the property to comply with the IBC zone development standards, which requires greater setbacks adjacent to a street and a greater percentage of landscaping to be provided on a development site.

The proposed site plan shows the bus storage area will be setback approximately 20 feet from the southwestern property line that is nearest to the Pringle Creek Community. The setback area will be landscaped with a combination of shrubs and trees and the entire storage area will be screened with a six foot tall sight obscuring security fence, providing a visual buffer from public view. Access to the bus storage area will be from an existing driveway on Fairview Industrial Drive SE, away from the Pringle Creek Community
I guess that's what happens on the border between an industrial park and a green residential and mixed-use development. And the report is certainly right to point out that "it could be worse" with "other more intensive industrial land uses." There doesn't really seem to be much to say against it.

Because the proposal is for a lot expansion only, and there are no new buildings, no new bike parking is required.

No bike parking required
This may be a gap in our current bike parking program and requirements. The Staff Report does not include an assessment of existing bike racks, and a parking lot expansion should be an occasion to expand parking for all modes, not just cars. Additionally, a bus driver might bike to the work site and get into a bus for a job shift. Any car storage facility might also include changes from one mode to another, and bike parking would be appropriate. Since the project includes 34 car stalls in addition to the bus stalls, it's not unreasonable to think bike parking is appropriate also.

Bike and Walk Salem was going to bring updated bike parking standards, and I don't think this ever happened.

This apparent gap deserves attention when we do in fact update bike parking standards.

The Planning Commission meets at 5:30pm on Tuesday the 17th in Council Chambers at City Hall.

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