Dignity Villages approaches moving day

by Damon Clark
staff writer

With the July 1 deadline swiftly approaching, Dignity Village is finding that it is not easy moving a tent city. Of the five sites considered for purchase for a permanent site, two of them cause zoning complications.

"From doorways to zoning code rewrites," says Jack Tafari, chair of Dignity Village, "We're necessity driven so we have to learn all that crap."

Itís a big deal to make a zone change through the Office of Planning and Development Review, or OPDR. Changing an industrial zone to residential would require a comprehensive amendment change, that means $18,000 plus $4,000 for a zone map change as well as a mandatory hearing before the city. That is a whole lot of bramble when two of the five sites on Dignity's Site Matrix are zoned at least partially industrial.

One of the five is already out. Dignity felt that the Greeley site in the Overlook area was ideal, set apart from the neighborhood by a high bluff. Union Pacific has decided not to sell the property to Dignity. Neighbors also had concern about the bluff, noting that it came down during the heavy rains of '94 and it's likely to do it again. A geologist confirmed this, judging that Greeley would be too prone to landslide.

The two other sites are on public land. One is close to downtown and the other along the banks of the Willamette.

Dignity plans on proposing an extension to the city for their July 1 deadline.

With community support, villagers continue to trudge through the muck of purchasing land, hoping that their efforts will one day lead to a permanent site.