• Last modified 781 days ago (May 4, 2022)


Hillsboro sets rules for container homes

Staff writer

Hillsboro city council members approved a process Tuesday for development of alternative construction homes, such as a container housing development planned for the north side of 3rd St.

Under the plan, a developer would need to present the planning commission a site plan for each structure, either one at a time or several at the same time.

Mayor Lou Thurston called the process “a good compromise.”

The city planning commission’s overlay rules for alternative construction homes would apply not just to proposed container homes but also to any alternative construction houses.

A developer would need to provide a detailed site plan and visuals for each home.

After a public hearing, planners would evaluate the proposal and consider how the homes would fit into an existing neighborhood before making a recommendation to the city council to apply an alternative housing overlay.

Rules for construction of regular homes would apply as well.

“The intention of the district is to establish a process for evaluating unique housing requests,” city administrator Matt Stiles said.

Homes would need to be mounted on a permanent foundation to provide stability.

Each home would be an independent unit, connected to all available utilities and located in a manner to preserve the visual character of the neighborhood.

Homes must have provisions for siding, roofing, landscaping, and off-street parking.

If the home uses recycled building materials, information about the origin of the material must be submitted to the building inspector, who may require environmental testing. Cost of any testing will be paid by the homeowner, builder, or developer.

Council members also had a preliminary discussion about how the coming fiscal year might look.

Inflation was chief among concerns.

“From where I’m sitting right now, when you look at the fiscal year ’23 budget, I’m more concerned about inflation,” Stiles said. “Last year, between the time we budgeted and the end of the year, it jumped like 4%.”

Inflation is predicted to be as much as 9½%, Stiles said.

Stiles said he wasn’t sure the city could afford to give employees big enough raises to cover inflation and was not sure the city would afford to make planned purchases.

He noted that prices the city pays for many things have increased. Gasoline has gone up a great deal, he said.

“It may be that we might not do some of our capital projects. That’s one of the places you cut,” he said. “I can tell you right now I don’t think we’re going to meet the revenue neutral rate.”

Council members pondered unexpected hardships such as those caused by Friday’s tornado at Andover and increased costs of construction materials.

“It’s pretty tough,” Thurston said. “I don’t know how many of you go in the store, but you do go places and buy gas.”

Council members decided to discuss budget priorities further at a future meeting.

Meanwhile, work on a downtown splash pad will begin later this month with construction of a water main for the facility and ground work for a parking area. Construction of a bathroom building is expected to begin soon.

Stiles said that the city also would need to make decisions about water treatment issues, which will peak in the summer. The water plant might need to change its disinfection system, and the city might want to move where water is pumped from Marion Reservoir.

Stiles said sales tax revenues continue to be up.

“I’m starting to wonder how much of that might be inflationary,” he said.

In other business, council members approved a zoning change so MB Foundation could add to its building and agreed to vacate an alley for Tabor College dormitories.

Last modified May 4, 2022