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Extended moratorium means longer wait for North Bend growth

North Bend has extended a development moratorium at Tanner to allow more time to discuss building requirements in the recently annexed and growing area of the city.

Last January, the city set a moratorium restricting development at Tanner until July.

With the expiration at hand, some property owners asked the city council to renew and extend the ban for three months, as they pursue building options. The council approved the extension June 15.

“We want to make sure that everything is done right,” said Rob Howie, managing member of Middle Fork Properties for Sea Con LLC. “Do I want a moratorium? No. Will I put up with it while the city works out details of what’s best for owners and the city? Yes, that’s the best solution.”

“Property owners want more time to discuss the issues,” said Gina Estep, North Bend’s Director of Community and Economic Development. “Normally, property owners aren’t asking for a moratorium, but they want the guidelines of the area, how to build buildings.”

Estep said owners were concerned with a provision to limit the size of buildings, and with regulations that would defer warehouses.

Current city size proposals would limit the market for warehousing, big assembly and distribution plants, Estep said. The city was concerned that big buildings that would not provide jobs, while business owners were worried about regulations that would inhibit attracting businesses that include warehouses.

Two requirements have drawn fire. One contentious rule was that no more than 75 percent of new Tanner buildings could be dedicated to storage of goods and materials — meaning that 25 percent of any building has to have an office, assembly or manufacturing element, Estep said.

“We definitely don’t want to see warehouses, that don’t provide jobs, fill up our job-producing lands,” she said.

The other issue of concern is a provision limiting square footage to 75,000 square feet. The city mandates a job-to-square-foot ratio calling for one job for every 500 square feet, which is typical for office buildings, Estep said.

However, warehouse job numbers vary widely, making it hard to pin down job creation at Tanner. Buildings could run the gamut from a well-employed supermarket distributor to an industrial distributor with one job per 10,000 square feet. Big box retail stores are typically 50,000 to 200,000 square feet.

Estep is concerned about the properties’ circulation patterns, or how the businesses will be accessed.

“What we’re trying to do is create a business park where there is a road that goes into these places, and you don’t feel like you’re lost,” she said. “We’re trying to create an employment area that is accessible for vehicles, pedestrians and big trucks.”

Next, city staff will take public and council comment to write a revised proposal.

“It’s going to be challenging,” Estep said. “The two issues come down to building size and job ratio, and those are two very hard things to regulate.”

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