City Council approves rules changes for new, large warehouses
November 27, 2023
On Monday, Nov. 20, City Council approved code changes that apply to new, large warehouses. Under the ordinance, new warehouses larger than 250,000 square feet will no longer be allowed in the Light Industrial zoning district and will only be allowed in the Heavy Industrial zoning district as a limited use, subject to certain new development standards. Effectively, because of parcel size requirements, such large warehouses would only be possible in the Port of Vancouver or Columbia Business Center.
The ordinance, passed unanimously, will take effect Dec. 6, which is also the day that the City’s 12-month moratorium on new applications for large warehouses will expire. The moratorium allowed City staff to examine the potential impacts of warehouse developments and to create land use code recommendations.
“We needed time to thoroughly look into this because large logistics warehouses consume large tracts of prime industrial land but don’t generally bring lots of jobs, or ones that pay particularly well. That’s where the main concern lies,” said Chad Eiken, the City’s director of Community Development. “We also had other concerns about pollution and impacts to neighborhoods from these very large warehouses such as a high volume of truck traffic which typically occurs day and night.”
Warehouse and freight movement facilities larger than 250,000 square feet in the Heavy Industrial district will also be subject to development standards that:
- Prohibit truck traffic along Fruit Valley Road
- Prohibit truck idling while parked, loading or unloading
- Reduce visual impacts along public roads through architectural features and tree plantings
- Require certain climate action measures such as solar-ready and light-colored roofs, EV charging infrastructure, additional tree plantings, and skylights or clerestory windows to promote natural lighting.
The approved code changes also ensure that the maximum percent of land that may be occupied by a building will be reduced from 100 percent to 75 percent for all warehouse/freight movement uses to make allowances for necessary elements such as parking, truck loading and maneuvering, stormwater retention and tree plantings.
The code changes were made in response to comments received from a 10-month public process. City staff engaged with stakeholders and the public including Alliance for Community Engagement, Identity Clark County Business Group, Port of Vancouver and Fruit Valley Neighborhood Association. Information regarding the project is also published on the City’s BeHeard website and more recently, postcards were mailed to each residential address in the Fruit Valley neighborhood.
The approved ordinance aligns with the City’s Strategic Plan by helping ensure a safe, future-ready and convenient transportation system; helping create places where a variety of businesses of all sizes grow and thrive; and practicing environmental stewardship and efforts to address climate change to help ensure a sustainable future.
Contact: Laura Shepard, Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org