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The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) has led the public process to clarify Portland’s Zoning Code as it applies to schools and recreational fields. In response to community concerns about public schools , BPS has been working with community members to address issues around schools in their neighborhoods. The project has focused on four topic areas: 1) enrollment fluctuations; 2) change of grade level; 3) recreational field uses; and 4) conditional use status for vacant school property.
The Portland City Council will hold a public hearing on April 22, 2010, at 3 p.m. to consider the Planning Commission’s recommendations regarding proposed code amendments for schools and recreational fields. Review the Recommended Draft for the Schools and Parks Conditional Use Code Refinement Project at www.portlandonline.com/bps/schools-parks.
At the outset of this project, staff identified the following desired goals:
• Improved communication and coordination between the permitting agencies, school districts, and Portland Parks and Recreation to more efficiently manage schools and parks facilities.
• More public input on changes that have impacts on the surrounding neighborhood.
• Fair, open public discussion of the balance and trade-offs that must be met to reach workable solutions (within the constraints of the limited scope and funding for this project).
• Zoning code regulations that are clear, easy to follow and set reasonable expectations for all community stakeholders.
The Planning Commission’s recommendations include amendment to Title 33 (Zoning Code) and Title 20 (Parks and Recreation) :
The recommendations for code amendments for schools would:
• allow fluctuations in enrollment and staffing without conditional use review unless other thresholds, such as additional building area, are triggered;
• clearly define when changes in grade levels would require a conditional use review and regulate three grade levels (K-5, 6-8 and 9-12); and
• extend the length of time that school buildings may remain vacant and then reopened without conditional use review.
The recommendations for recreational fields include proposals for new ways to regulate recreational fields that better serve the community. Proposed amendments to the Zoning Code would clarify that parks, schools, and school sites are treated the same when new construction or modification of fields are under consideration. These changes would also address current code language that is confusing and in some situations difficult to implement.
Want more details? Read the report, Recommended Draft for the Schools and Parks Conditional Use Code Refinement Project (includes detail on code changes and commentary) at www.portlandonline.com/bps/schools-parks.