Jim Winkler says he was disappointed but not surprised when the Albany City Council last week turned down his request to rezone nearly 13 acres of vacant land in North Albany so he could develop an apartment complex that would include commercial services for residents to use.
The Portland developer says he is still interested in what he called a compromise proposal to rezone only part of his land. In his view this would lead to a housing development that would be “less inspired, less interesting” than what he had in mind originally.
Or he could follow a different solution, which is to develop the property closer to the density allowed by the current zoning to recover part of the revenue that would otherwise be available from a mixed-use project.
But, he adds, he doesn’t know which way he’ll go: “I haven’t made up my mind.”
I contacted Winkler’s Portland office Thursday after the council voted 4-2 to reject his zoning request. He returned my call and left his comments in a message on my phone.
He had asked to rezone the five tax lots he owns from medium density residential, which allows apartments, to mixed-use commercial, which allows apartments plus a range of commercial uses. He showed the council conceptual plans showing three buildings totaling 202 units of senior housing and four buildings totaling 156 units of family housing.
He also told the council the proposed number of units was only two-thirds of the maximum density allowed by the present zoning, and that plus the arrangement of the buildings on the site was intended to preserve open space and lessen the impact on the subdivision to the east.
Before the planning commission and then the council, neighbors voiced strong opposition to the request. They complained about traffic and other effects, including what the change would do to their property values.
Councilman Ray Kopczynski, who along with Councilwoman Bessie Johnson voted against rejecting the request, warned that without the mixed-use aspect, the property can already be developed for apartments, which might have even more of the effects neighbors are worried about.
The compromise Winkler talked about would rezone just the two of his parcels closest to Hickory Street. “If they want to pursue that or some other development option, such as a planned development, we will need to sit down with them and view those on their merits,” David Martineau in the city planning division told me. “We’ve extended the offer to talk about next steps when they’re ready to propose something else.” (hh)