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The Longview City Council Thursday will consider zoning code changes intended to encourage development of more multi-family housing and reduce the city’s homelessness problem.

Longview Mayor Don Jensen said he is happy with the zoning recommendations sent to council by the city planning commission.

“The more housing we get available, the less the rents will skyrocket, which will make it more affordable for people who don’t have a place to live,” Jensen said. “It will help with our homeless problem, I have no doubt.”

The recommendation includes changing the requirements for minimum lot size, density, building height, maximum impervious area, design standards and the off-street parking code.

Under the proposed changes, the previous density limit for R-3 and R-4 districts of 25 units per acre would be eliminated. However, any multi-family building exceeding 30 units would need a minimum lot size of 12,000 square feet (slightly more than a quarter-acre). Height limits would only be applied in the R-3 and R-4 zones when buildings are adjacent to R-1 or TNR (Traditional Residential Neighborhood) zones.

The density for the R-2 district would be increased from 18 units to 30 units per acre.

The maximum impervious surface would be increased by 10 percent for all residential districts except R-1.

In addition, the required parking spaces for multifamily developments in the residential districts would be reduced from 1.5 spaces per unit to one space per unit.

(To view a Longview zoning map, check out http://arcg.is/2jSNpyE.)

The planning commission held a public hearing about the proposed changes on Nov. 1, but no one from the public attended, City Planning Manager Steve Langdon said.

Councilman Steve Moon said he appreciated the Planning Commission’s hard work and that he is leaning towards supporting the proposal.

“Right now, any change that eases the burden (on developers) and encourages new development in our area is a good thing,” Moon said. “There’s never a perfect plan, but this is one that is encouraging new growth in our community.”

Councilman Scott Vydra also said he was pleased with the recommendations.

“Longview realistically has very limited opportunities for development, so we need to look at existing opportunities and choosing to create more opportunities,” Vydra said. “The trick is to get the conversation started.”

Jensen said he expects the motion to pass on Thursday. He added that increased density might concern some residents, but the benefits will outweigh the detriments.

“When you get more people in an area, it could cause some problems,” Jensen said. “But those problems are there now with having so many homeless people. So I’d rather see them in homes.”

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