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North Bend changes low-density zoning for more rural feel

As North Bend is growing, city officials are reconsidering how they want that growth to look, and more space is becoming a priority.

In a special meeting July 1, the council established interim, or emergency standards for development in low-density residential zones, including an average lot size of 8,000 square feet (up from 6,500) with a minimum lot size of 7,500 square feet (up from 5,000). The minimum lot width was also changed, to 60 feet from 40. The council also directed the city's planning commission to review the existing zoning and develop a formal recommendation for updates to the low-density residential zone, for the council to adopt in a future meeting.

The changes will not affect the permitted projects currently underway in the city, but they will be part of all new permit applications until a new code is adopted. More than 200 homes are in some phase of construction in North Bend, and roughly 400 more are in the permitting process.

Because the changes were interim, the city must hold a public hearing within 60 days of the action. City Administrator Londi Lindell estimated that a public hearing on the issue would be scheduled for August.

The council’s action was likely influenced as much by the city’s recent growth, as by seeing the effects of the code firsthand. Construction was stopped for 10 years in the city, and only restarted in 2009, after North Bend acquired sufficient water rights for the population, so there was not much growth for councilmen to see for years. Earlier this year, the council revamped its code for residential streets, after seeing it implemented, Lindell pointed out.

“They looked at street standards, and decided they wanted wider streets, when they finally got to see it, visually, at Cedar Falls,” she explained.

Public opposition to some of the developments may also have prompted the council’s review of the code. Residents near a proposed 156-home project on Tanner Road by Segale, for example, have been vocal in their resistance to the development.

Since February, several have spoken regularly at North Bend City Council meetings. They've raised issues with the proposal, and asked the council to ensure all development in the city follows the code.

They've found many issues with the proposal and suggested some changes to improve safety and reduce the development's impact on existing residents, both human and wildlife. They've also asked elected officials to ensure all development in the city follows the established code, and reminded them of the city's overall vision, from the 1992 North Bend Vision Plan, for a community with rural character.

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