Who’s telling the truth about the Zoning?

In an e-mail I sent on July 11, I warned that the defined use of “Drug Treatment Clinic — Non-residential” was not allowed on the site which Lane County has now purchased for the planned Medication-Assisted Treatment (“MAT”) Clinic that would dispense Methadone (and other drugs) on a non-residential basis.

The reason is simple: Eugene’s comprehensive plan designates the property for “Medium Density Residential” (“MDR”) use, which is implemented in Eugene Zoning Code by the R-2 Medium-Density Residential Zone. The R-2 zone doesn’t allow non-residential drug treatment clinics. The MDR designation also allows “Neighborhood Commercial Facilities,” which is implemented in Eugene Zoning Code by the by the C-1 Neighborhood Commercial Zone. The C-1 Zone also doesn’t allow non-residential drug treatment clinics. The comprehensive plan also designates the site with a “Mixed Use” overlay, but that overlay is implemented by the S-DW Downtown-Westside Mixed-Use Special Area Zone. The S-DW Zone also doesn’t allow non-residential drug treatment clinics.

Legally, the site’s C-2 Zoning conflicts with the comprehensive plan designations; and State law requires the City to bring the zoning into conformance with the plan designation, which would mean rezoning the property to either R-2, C-1 or S-DW. In no case can the site be lawfully used for non-residential drug treatment clinic.

The Lane County commissioners disregarded these facts because they relied on an explicit, written statement by Karen Gaffney, the Director of Health and Human Services, that “[County] staff met with an independent consultant and City of Eugene staff to confirm proper zoning for locating the MAT clinic at this site.”

The problem is that the City staff deny having any records that confirm Gaffney’s claim of “proper zoning” for the MAT clinic. Furthermore, the Eugene Planning Director stated in writing that the City staff “generally do not provide review of, or comment on, interpretations of the land use code outside of the context of a land use application.” The County has not submitted any form of land use application to this date.

I’ve provided the County documents establishing this apparent conflict in statements of the Lane County HHS Director and the Eugene Planning Director, and I’ve requested that the HHS Director provide proof that what she told the Lane County Commissioners was true.

It will be important to get to the bottom of this issue, especially because my further investigation into the site’s zoning has discovered evidence that confirms that the MAT clinic cannot be legally operated on the W. 11th Ave. site.

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