After multiple readings, much discussion and input from the public, the Lincoln City, City Council has approved the proposed ordinance regarding accessory uses for Places of Worship.
At the July 8 City Council meeting, the council approved an ordinance that was originally proposed by the Planning Commission on May 23. The original recommendation was that the City reduce the required square footage per person for overnight sheltering at Places of Worship to 35 square feet per person, remove the Oregon Fire Code technical assistance memo requirement of a maximum of 90 days a year and have no cap on the maximum amount of overnight sheltering of individuals in the residential zones.
After considering their proposal, the City Council held multiple readings of the ordinance and heard a variety of public comments. The council finally landed on an agreement to approve the ordinance Monday night, but with a few revisions.
Revisions included changing the term “emergency sheltering,” which was in the original ordinance to “temporary sheltering” to largely allow for groups such as traveling bike groups to stay over night. These Places of Worship also much comply with the Oregon Fire Code and they put a cap on the maximum number of people who could stay at 50 in commercial zones, with a minimum of 35 square feet per person and a cap of 25 in residential zones, also with the 35 square feet per person minimum.
Since the Oregon Fire Code will require Places of Worship to follow a number of rules and guidelines, some of the council expressed concern about properly adhering to this code.
“I’m really pleased with the way this has evolved,” Councilman Rick Mark said. “Since the churches are so involved, I wonder if there can be a letter prepared to the churches to spell out the obligations. Especially when it comes to creating an occupant list and the notification of the fire marshal.”
Mayor Dick Anderson asked if the new ordinance required a permit to allow temporary sheltering, but was informed that not permit process was set up, only regulations that would need to be complied with. City Manager Ron Chandler also mentioned that they would have to keep in close contact with the Places of Worship as they placed a limit on the number of nights per year an individual can stay in a temporary shelter. The limit was set at 90 days per year.
“We will be in tough with them to see what their schedule is,” Chandler said. “There are things that we actually have to know in order to make sure the churches are complying with this.”
Mayor Anderson said that a letter would be created for the Place of Worship to ensure that the guidelines were followed.
“We’ve legalized what we knew was happening anyway,” Anderson said. “We’ve brought the Places of Worship into a legal category.”
The new ordinance also requires smaller or older churches that before did not have to adhere to the fire code, to know being required to follow the regulations if they did intend to provide temporary sheltering.