A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Old Cumberland site now needs city variance

Written March 13th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

This is the former site of the Cumberland Church. Redeveloping the site has run into delays. (Photo taken Jan. 23.)

When Yohn Baldwin bought the site of the former Cumberland Church from the City of Albany last year, no one said anything about the regulatory obstacles he would face in doing something with the land.

In January, the city planning division put out for public comment Baldwin’s site plan for developing the old church site and an adjacent warehouse. The plan calls for turning part of the warehouse into a fitness club and retail space, and making the vacant church land into a landscaped parking lot.

The site is at the corner of Santiam Road and Main Street. The city said improving the property would trigger a requirement that Main Street along the frontage of the lot would have to be rebuilt to city standards, which Baldwin told me at the time might derail the project because of the additional cost.

When I called him Monday, Baldwin told me the good news was that the base of the old Main Street apparently does meet standards and would not have to be rebuilt. Also, he may have to redo the surface of only his property’s half of the street.

Now the city has discovered a section of the development code that prohibits “parking, loading or travel aisles” between a street and buildings within 50 feet of the street.

On March 9, the planning division posted a notice that Baldwin and his project designer, GREEN Cascades LLC, had applied for a variance or exception from that provision of the code.

The ban on parking between buildings and streets apparently is relatively new. Parking spaces between the church and Santiam Road existed for about 100 years. And there has been parking next to Main Street since the warehouse was built in — according to tax records — 1960.

The city’s notice about the variance from the parking rule said owners within 300 feet were notified and had until March 23 to submit written comments.

Baldwin is president of Baldwin General Contracting, based next door to the old church site on Santiam Road. He told me Monday he had hoped to have his project on the corner under construction by now.

But he also said he was committed to the project despite the delays. (hh)

The parking area between Main Street, on the left, and the warehouse on the right apparently would violate the city development code. (Photo taken Jan. 28.)

5 responses to “Old Cumberland site now needs city variance”

  1. thomas earl cordier says:

    Yes, the City has staff continually searching for violations/impediments/code infringements trying to stifle creative solutions. They seek to manage every aspect of our lives. Witness the long bru-haha over portable pottys

  2. Hartman says:

    I love how Hasso writes this sentence at the beginning of his screed, “no one said anything about the regulatory obstacles he (Baldwin) would face in doing something with the land.”

    Setting his unsuspecting readers up with pretzel logic, Hering implies that someone other than Baldwin’s legal counsel should have told Mr. Baldwin about the various statutes, rules and regulations surrounding the use of property in that particular location. Hering never considers that Baldwin had any duty to do complete due diligence before signing contracts, or the loan papers.

    For as long as I have been reading Hering’s musings, one of his most repeated, most sacred beliefs is in the importance of the individual. The strong individual is capable of understanding complex situations and how to overcome them. Self-motivated Ayn Randians do not require reminders about anything, particularly from the government. These folks stand alone, relying on themselves. But, in today’s harangue Hering implies in his first paragraph – it was someone else’s duty to inform Baldwin.

    If the casual reader accepts Hering’s opening paragraph as truth, then the rest of the Hering argument flows effortlessly, placing blame on those (bureaucrats) who failed to alert Baldwin about the parking situation. This Hering Twist turns Hering’s previously held belief in individual responsibility on its Ayn Rand head. Hering’s mental gymnastics suggest that perhaps Hering, like Tucker Carlson, doesn’t really believe the things he says in public. Just sayin’

  3. Al Nyman says:

    A nut case believes anybody can research city and county regulations and laws. The nut case also believes he can go to the county or city planning commission’s and get a straight answer. From experience, it ain’t going to ever happen!

  4. centrist says:

    Albany certainly has many rules that impede change.
    Don’t know if that’s because of a conservative core, or a legacy from Germanic ancestry

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