In an effort to bring a parcel of land off Ridge Trail currently occupied by Ridgewalk Apartments into conformity, the Woodstock City Council approved rezoning the land at Monday night’s meeting.

“The zoning here currently is light industrial with technology park overlay,” Process Planner Dakota Carruthers said. “This is a simple request of rezoning only, rezoning from light industrial with tech park overlay to R-4, which is our high-density residential zoning. No changes are proposed to the property, no new development is proposed, simply just the rezoning.”

Carruthers explained that, when the apartments were built in 2004 at 1 Elena Way, they were allowed under the technology park overlay. However, apartment buildings have since been removed from this overlay category, thus making the complex a legally non-conforming use of the property and leading to the request for rezoning. As the request went first before the development process committee, then the planning commission, neither entity saw any issue with allowing the rezoning to take place.

Representing the applicant, Kathryn Zickert then addressed the council regarding the case.

“I want to explain to you that we are not selling this property. We’ve had it for a number of years and it’s a very successful project. It is approximately 97% occupied, it’s been very, very well maintained, and we’re delighted that this has been a successful project,” Zickert said. “What we do need to do, however, is to make sure it is a conforming use because we refinanced the property and the lender was concerned, due to insurance issues, that should part or all of the property burn, we would not be allowed to rebuild.”

No members of the public had signed up to speak on the matter, and the only questions came from Councilman Warren Johnson, who wondered if the complex would be allowed to rebuild if only one building was destroyed under a legal non-conforming use and if this rezoning case could have waited until a time when a portion or all of the facility had been destroyed and a rebuild was in the works. Zickert responded she believed that if only one building had burned or otherwise destroyed, it could be rebuilt, as the conditions on this are usually tied to a percentage of the total units or value of the property. At the same time, Zickert said she and her client would be willing to come back with this request following any sort of disaster affecting the complex, but that the lender involved in refinancing was wanting to see it be rezoned now.

With his questions having been answered, Johnson said he would not have any issue with the rezoning if it could be tied to the property’s existing use, with Councilman Rob Usher agreeing with him and Zickert saying she could live with that condition.

“I think that what we have existing is great, but I’d sure hate to see us lose more light industrial and other stuff. We have a limited amount of that,” Usher said.

Johnson then made a motion to approve rezoning the property, along with all comments made by city staff and tying it to the land’s existing use, which was seconded by Councilman Brian Wolfe and approved in a unanimous vote of the council.

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