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Published: Tuesday, 5/2/2006

Oregon sets election on zoning issue for June 27

Oregon voters will consider a zoning change referendum in a special election in June after members of Oregon City Council stuck to their guns at a special meeting last night.

No councilman changed his or her mind regarding two zoning changes passed Feb. 27 to allow an upscale housing subdivision of 64 homes to be built off Seaman Road and an adjacent parcel off Corduroy Road, triggering a special election that could cost taxpayers up to $100,000.

In February, council voted 4-3 to allow the zoning to be changed on a combined 13 acres between Norden and Stadium roads from R-1 low-density residential zoning to R-2 medium-density residential zoning. The zoning change gave the green light for developer Noel Graham to build the proposed Graham Village that will hold homes costing $225,000 and up.

But a group calling itself the Citizens for Orderly Growth and Farmland Preservation in Oregon was able to collect enough signatures from voters to force council to consider repealing the zoning change. The group needed 1,945 signatures for each zoning change to be reconsidered, and collected more than 2,000 for each in about a month.

Council first considered repealing the ordinances April 24. But because Councilman Jim Seaman was absent, the group tabled the ordinances until last night, when all seven council members were in attendance.

Councilmen Sandy Bihn, Mike Seferian, and Jerry Peach voted against the zoning change in February, and were the only three members who voted to repeal the ordinances referring to the zoning changes last night.

But four councilmen stood by their decision to change the zoning to R-2. "I believe this is the type of residential growth that we should be encouraging in the city of Oregon, rather than discouraging," Councilman Matt Szollosi said.

After discussing the issue, council voted 4-2 to set the special election for June 27, with Mr. Szollosi and Council President Mike Sheehy voting against what they said was an early date.

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