News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Fire recovery homes must meet code

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

A proposed tiny-home village in Mill City for wildfire survivors must meet normal development standards rather than emergency measures currently in place at the site in question, according to city officials.

City Clerk Stacie Cook said, in a Nov. 10 memo to the City Council, the long-term nature of tiny homes proposed by Marion County would require paving, street improvements, stormwater mitigation, a site plan and other standards similar to typical residential developments.

Cook said this is because the site is meant to remain for three to five years, or longer, until permanent housing is completed elsewhere in the city, including two apartment complexes under development by Marion County and the Oregon Housing Authority. 

She said this timeframe is beyond the emergency-use conditions that allowed FEMA to install temporary housing following the Santiam Fire without such improvements at the site in question on Remine Road.

This has created a funding snag for the county, with Marion County Commissioner Danielle Bethell telling the city in a Nov. 10 email that emergency relief funds meant for fire recovery may not be eligible to pay for street improvements and other work because these improvements may not be viewed as “absolutely necessary” to re-home survivors.

Bethell also noted the Remine Road property has been discussed as a potential future site for a regional sewer plant, and if this is the case any developments to the site may come to nothing.

Cook told the council, after conferring with City Planner Dave Kinney, they concluded the city needs to follow development codes in this instance and treat the tiny-home village like any other development. She said the city may be able to approve an agreement with the county that would allow the homes to be placed before the other improvements are made.

Cook added the city also needs to draft a lease agreement for the property that would take into account
FEMA’s current tenancy at the site, with such an agreement either subleasing to FEMA or the county.

Marion County proposed the tiny-home village in September after plans to build a similar facility in Gates fell through due to unforeseen increases in estimated expenses. The county’s goal is to help provide housing for residents who continue to be displaced by the Santiam Fire, with an estimated 170 individuals still without permanent housing since the disaster.

A second tiny home development planned for North Santiam State Park, called Santiam Cottages, remains under way.

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