Lebanon Planning Commission works out ‘duplex’ definition

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
In response to a new state law requiring some cities to allow duplexes in areas zoned for single-family housing, the Lebanon Planning Commission has settled on defining a duplex as “attached” units during a discussion about the new requirements.
House Bill 2001 was approved by the state legislature in 2019, requiring medium-sized cities ranging in population from 10,000 to 25,000 to allow for duplexes in any zone that allows single family dwelling units.
“The law specifically says that we have to treat duplexes like a single family dwelling,” said Kelly Hart, community development director during a March 18 work session for commissioners. “The City of Lebanon is already progressive in that duplexes and single-family dwellings are already treated similarly, so the code changes associated with House Bill 2001 for the city of Lebanon are very minor.”
Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development drafted a model ordinance for the new law, but the City of Lebanon has until July 1 to adopt its own ordinance. Otherwise, the ordinance drafted by the state will automatically be enacted.
Much of the discussion among commissioners revolved around whether to keep the city’s definition of a duplex, or adopt an expanded definition to include detached duplexes as an option.
The city currently defines a duplex as two “attached” dwellings, but the new legislature allows – but does not require – for it to also be defined as two “detached” dwelling units on a lot or parcel.
Commissioner Joshua Galka said that allowing for detached could lead to houses being built in back yards and cause a lack of design continuity, while Todd Prenoveau noted it could also lead to dense population on narrow roads.
Samuel Brackeen countered that Lebanon is considered a severe housing burden community, so allowing detached could create more inventory for rentals.
“More homes is better, whether it’s detached or not,” Brackeen said. “I think having it now and kind of hashing it out as time goes on, maybe with some improvements later on that we concede. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”
Hart said she believes a majority of those who utilize the code option would be developers for new construction.
Chairman Jeremy Salvage recommended the commission adopt the minimum standard of “attached” for the time being and continue the discussion about the “detached” option. He also suggested they work on some type of tiny home verbiage in the codes “because that’s going to be coming sooner than later, I think.”

The commission also agreed to amend current codes in order to align with HB2001 as such:
♦ Codes for lot averaging will also have to be inclusive of duplexes. If the commission later decides to include detached as an option, the zero lot line residential development code will also have to apply to detached duplexes.
♦ Current code states that a lot within 500 feet of the airport runway can only be developed with up to one dwelling unit per acre. To meet the new law standards, Hart suggested changing the code to state that a maximum of two dwelling units is allowed per two acres.
♦ Current code requires two off-street parking spaces per residence, which means a minimum of four spaces per duplex. Since HB2001 requires a duplex to be treated as a single family dwelling unit, then the city can only require no more than two spaces.
To encourage developers to place more than two parking spots, the commission agreed to offer the incentive that the rear setback can be 15 feet instead of the required 20 feet.
Hart said she will finish drafting the refined ordinance and present it at the next meeting, April 21, before sending it to the city council for approval.