“Interchange Mixed Use” zoning codifies the important distinction between the most intensive commercial uses of “Interchange Commercial” zoning and a set of commercial uses that are consistent with locations right next to established residential neighborhood areas.
The city of North Bend changed the zoning because it was in the best interest of the health and welfare of all concerned citizens to properly balance the conflicting interests of the commercial investors and residential owners.
Hotels are not allowed under IMU zoning, and the only difference in circumstances since the zoning change is that the property owner has changed development plans — a hotel now vs. the prior truck stop/gas station-24-hour-drive-through-restaurant then.
The city officials might find it difficult to resist the “bird-in-the-hand” persuasiveness of Sno Bend LLC’s argument that the city should change zoning simply because Sno Bend LLC claims to be willing at this time to build a hotel on this property — as opposed to anyone being willing to develop a hotel in the Interchange Commercial zone where such development is already permitted. In this economy, it would be wonderful to have the permitting fees, construction jobs, and excise tax revenue of new development. The city, however, should consider that this self-serving, legally insufficient reason is always available, but it does not justify a reversal of the zoning decisions correctly made and instituted only a few short years ago to fairly balance valid citizen economic and welfare interests. If the city changes the IMU zoning using this rationale, then anyone who wants to build anything not allowed under current zoning will be able to make reference to the “Wyrsch Hotel” precedent — essentially, “I’ll build it if you let me…” So much for the rule of law.
I support commercial development within the letter of the laws of the city of North Bend and other governmental entities with jursidiction. As an attorney and a citizen, I believe that zoning laws should be changed only when there is a compelling rationale so that citizens can rely on the continuity of the law.
The present motives of a speculative investor and the city (no matter how well-intentioned) do not give rise to a reason compelling enough to scrap the recently-implemented and well-balanced zoning at Exit 31 — especially at the expense of homeowners already reeling from the current economic punches.