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

Detroit code OK’d on 5-2 vote

The polarizing Detroit development code update is one step closer to taking effect.

The City Council on a 5-2 vote on Oct. 10, passed the first reading of an ordinance that would rework its code, a key city goal in the post-wildfire environment. The split vote matched the vote when, after lengthy public debate, the council requested city staff bring the ordinance forward.

Voting for the new code were councilors Denny Nielsen, Michele Tesdal, Todd Smith, Eric Page and Mayor Jim Trett. Tim Luke and Greg Sheppard voted no.

Because the vote was not unanimous the council is scheduled for a second reading of the ordinance at its Oct. 24 meeting. If approved there the code will take effect 30 days later.

No amendments were made to the code package, which was backed in April by the Planning Commission before going through a pair of lengthy council public hearings.

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 lone piece that drew a strong community response was a limitation on RVs in residential zones.

An early iteration of the code package called for allowing one RV year-round and a second during the high recreational season of April 1 through Oct. 31. It was amended on a motion by Nielsen that added a process of a conditional use permit for a second seasonal RV on properties of 10,000 square feet or more.

The RV debate proved to be a severely divisive issue for a town still in recovery from the 2020 wildfires. Many residents questioned whether allowing large numbers of RVs was the correct approach. Others noted Detroit’s history of large family get-togethers at the lake. Residents noted in public testimony about neighbors no longer speaking to each other as well as more confrontational encounters.

The July 11 and Aug. 8 public hearings on the code featured standing-room-only crowds and occasional boisterousness as councilors heard from approximately three dozen people during the two sessions. A strong majority of those testifying opposed the RV restrictions.

Dozens of community members at a series of council meetings wore light blue T-shirts that featured an image of a travel trailer amid language that cited the “Spirit of Detroit,” “Long Live Tradition” and advocated “Lake, Sun, Family, Fun and RVS.”

In other agenda items at the Oct. 10 session:

• Councilors voted in favor of a resolution backing a cooperative agreement between the city and the Willamette National Forest on facilities and maintenance in the Detroit Flats day-use area, which includes city land as well as Army Corps of Engineers property maintained by the Forest Service. 

• Councilors also backed a resolution on a five-year lease by the Detroit Lake Foundation for space in the Detroit Community Center on West Santiam Avenue. The foundation will pay $1 per year in rent.

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A crowd of approximately 50 people gathered at the Gates Fire Hall on Saturday, March 25, for a meeting about the Santiam Canyon’s wildfire recovery plan. At lower left are Councilors Denny Nielsen and Eric Page of Detroit. James Day

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