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Local News: Astoria Planning Commission debates housing options

by Joanne Rideout

The Astoria planning commission met in a three and a half hour work session Tuesday night, where they discussed code changes to allow for more local housing options. Commissioners also talked about warning center issues, enhanced cell service downtown, and gave the nod to a columbarium at the Grace Episcopal Church.

The commission discussed a variety of possible housing solutions to create more long term housing in Astoria, including changing rules on accessory dwelling units on private property, and dormitory and single room occupancy dwellings. They discussed alternatives to traditional dwellings, such as standards for mobile homes, RVs, and even shipping containers as possible housing options.

Commissioners discussed the Astoria warming center and its temporary status at the First United Methodist Church. They debated whether to change the center’s status to a conditional use so that it won’t have to reapply each year.

They gave a tentative nod to a proposal from the Grace Episcopal Church to house a Columbarium on their property where the cremains of parishioners could be stored.

And the commission discussed a proposal from Verizon Wireless regarding enhanced cell service in downtown Astoria, and how city code would need to be rewritten include regulations for equiment to allow small cell signal emitters to be installed within city limits.

The meeting was a work session and not a regular meeting, so no decisions were made. Some items on the agenda were proposals that had been tabled from earlier in the year. The commission gave direction to city staff to create proposed amendment language to be discussed at their next meeting in January.

The Astoria Planning Commission works in an advisory capacity to the Astoria City Council. Any items approved by the commission must them proceed to the city council for approval.

Public comment is welcome and encouraged during this process. The schedule and agenda for city meetings is available on the Astoria city government website. The next Astoria Planning Commission meeting will be Tuesday, Jan 28th.