Project Shakespeare in Final Stages of Obtaining Building Permit

The developers of Project Shakespeare, a massive, 531,000 square foot beverage storage and distribution facility the Planning Commission approved for the Canby Pioneer Industrial Park in January, are in the final stages of obtaining their building permit.

Canby Planning Director Bryan Brown says Clackamas County is ready to sign off on the matter, and the development team is making final revisions to their plans before the city provides a release letter for issuance of the building permit. They have also paid all applicable fees, he added.

“There are other approval steps and requirements in the process but they are almost there for the building permit,” Brown said.

Demolition work has already started at the 42-acre site located in the northeast corner of the industrial park, bordered on three sides by SE First Avenue, Walnut and Mulino roads. An old barn, visible from SE First, has been removed, along with several structures on Mulino Road.

According to its plans filed with the city as part of the design review process, Project Shakespeare will be 520 feet wide and over 1,000 feet long. That’s more than the length of three football fields. Its warehouse space will include a 56,000 square foot cooler, which is roughly the equivalent of two dozen or so average-sized single-family homes.

Developers say Project Shakespeare will operate virtually around the clock, with 275 to 300 employees housed in or based out of the facility — a mix of drivers, warehouse and office staff. They seem to be on track with the timeline they provided at the Planning Commission meeting in January, with construction starting this spring, and a tentative opening set for summer of 2020.

But things are not going according to plan for some of their neighbors, like Patty Green, who lives on the other side of SE First Avenue. Patty says she and her neighbors knew the property was zoned for industrial use and would be developed eventually, but they never expected something like this.

They’re deeply concerned about the truck traffic the facility will generate on some roads that are already in need of repair, and they don’t feel like their voices were heard in the approval process.

Patty and her husband bought their property in Canby intending to spend the rest of their lives there. She even moved her 87-year-old father there to care for him. Now, they’re looking to sell.

We spoke with Patty recently, and here’s what she had to say.

Patty has indeed appeared before the Canby City Council, multiple times, to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting, and she’s also right that Mayor Hodson said they couldn’t talk about the matter. The reason for this is that the City Council is the appellate body for site and design review decisions that are appealed from the Planning Commission.

When Patty spoke before the Council, the window to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision on Shakespeare was still open (it’s now long since closed). Hodson explained to Patty at that time how it would be inappropriate for him or anyone else on the council to publicly say anything about a case they might later be called upon to decide.

We did ask Patty why she and her neighbors didn’t appeal the Planning Commission decision, and her reason was simple: She couldn’t afford it. Canby’s fee for appealing a Type III site and design review is $1,920.

Canby City Administrator Rick Robinson said the fees are set each year by a resolution of the City Council, and the purpose of this one is to recapture some portion of the cost of processing the appeal from the Planning Commission.

The fees for some appeals are limited by state statute. For example, a city can charge no more than $250 for the appeal of a Type II land use decision, an amount that must also be reimbursed to the appellant if they prevail.

Robinson said he believes the reason the Legislature has made this distinction is because, in a Type II case, the original decision is typically made by a city staff member, such as the planning director. The appeal in these cases goes to the Planning Commission, which would be the appellant’s first opportunity to have a hearing before a public body.

In a Type III case, the original decision is made by the Planning Commission, which already includes the opportunity for opponents to be heard and to express concerns.

Different cities set their Type III fees in a variety of ways. The city of Woodburn’s is a formula: $100, plus half the cost of the original application fee, capped at $2,000. The cap is important, since their application fees go as high as $15,000, depending on the size of the project.

In the city of Portland, the cost of a Type III appeal is half the original application fee, with no cap. But approved organizations can apply for a fee waiver.

“Each jurisdiction has a little different approach to setting fees,” Robinson said. “The only real common outcome is that the fee cannot exceed the cost of the service being delivered.”

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