Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Clatsop County is pursuing changes to its land-use rules to accommodate the city of Cannon Beach's innovative emergency storage program.

On March 12 the county Planning Commission will take up proposed amendments to the county zoning regulations allowing the placement of "storage structures for emergency use" on forest land.

The amendments will enable the city to expand the project, which provides secure sites for citizens to store food, clothing and other basic supplies and equipment for survival in the wake of a major disaster such as a Cascadia Zone earthquake and tsunami.

The city plans to place 20-foot-long metal shipping containers at three sites on the outskirts of Cannon Beach outside the tsunami inundation zone. Bucket- or barrel-sized "cache" containers will be provided to members of the public to fill with personal supplies and place in the storage containers.

Last year Cannon Beach officials placed the first of the containers at a site on the eastern side of the city within the city limits. Two more sites are planned at the city's north and south ends, but both are outside the city limits in areas zoned as Agriculture Forestry (AF) or Forestry 80 (F-80), which did not allow for storage structures like the city's.

At the city's request, last year the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development agreed to consider language amendments to the two forestry zones and convened an advisory committee that included Clatsop County Senior Planner Jennifer Bunch and Cannon Beach City Planner Rainmar Bartl. The panel's draft rule amendments were adopted by the Land Conservation and Development Commission in January.

The rule changes authorize the placement of "storage structures for emergency use" in the AF and F-80 zones. The amendments define the structures narrowly to cover only essential supplies such as food, clothing, medical supplies, generators and communications equipment. The structures may be placed in forest-zoned land only if potential sites within a city have been used first.

The county planning commission will consider amendments to the county zoning ordinance adopting the new state rules and allowing the storage units as conditional uses in the two zones. If approved, the amendments will go to the county board of commissioners for adoption in April.

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