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

Detroit council meets again on RVs, code update

The Detroit City Council is headed for another round in its effort to finish work on a massive development code update.

The council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8 at the Detroit Community Center, 345 W. Santiam Ave.,  to hear further public testimony on the code changes. The council plans to deliberate on the proposal, but it remains unclear if they will vote Tuesday or at a later date.

A standing-room-only crowd of 50-plus community members was on hand for the July 11 public hearing on Detroit’s development code update. Most of those present opposed the RV limits in the ordinance. James Day
A standing-room-only crowd of 50-plus community members was on hand for the July 11 public hearing on Detroit’s development code update. Most of those present opposed the RV limits in the ordinance.                                                                                  James Day

The city’s Planning Commission approved the changes at its April 18 meeting, and the council heard approximately a dozen community members testify at its July 11 session. The key sticking point for the code work is a section that would limit recreational vehicles to one per lot. About 20 people among the standing-room-only crowd of 50-plus community members at that earlier meeting wore matching T-shirts advocating opposition to the RV rule.

The process to work on the code package began with a Planning Commission action on Nov. 30, 2021. The code work, led by temporary city planner Mcrae Carmichael of the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, has been a lengthy process.

Carmichael noted that “every meeting, Planning Commission and City Council, was open to the public.”

In addition, Carmichael said, several joint work sessions between the City Council and Planning Commission were held to discuss the entire code and changes being considered.

The code ordinance includes standards on accessory dwelling units (ADUs), setbacks, driveway aprons, vehicle and parking standards, metal roofs, airbnbs, extensions and exemptions and adds new definitions and clarifies language throughout.

But the only piece of the code work that has drawn a response from the community has been the RV clause. Although opponents dominated the public testimony at the July 11 meeting, Carmichael said that overall the comments received by the city have been more evenly split.

Detroit action to approve the RV limits would put the city in line with the policies of its nearest neighbors, Idanha and Gates. Idanha does not allow “RV living” within city limits, a city spokesperson told The Canyon Weekly.

Meanwhile, in Gates, code prohibits a “manufactured home, trailer, recreational vehicle or camper to be used for cooking, sleeping or living purposes except in a designated recreational vehicle park,” according to an email exchange between The Canyon Weekly and Mayor Brian Gander. 

Residents can live in an RV while they are rebuilding from the 2020 wildfires, but a transitional housing permit is required. The city ordinance that authorized the transitional housing permits sunsets Sept. 8, Gander said, adding that “it should be clear residents who bought property in Gates after the Santiam Canyon fires of 2020 are not allowed to access the temporary residence clause” because their need for transitional housing was not affected by the fires.

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