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Oak Hills might get place in history

Community set precedent for area's future developments


Washington County’s Oak Hills area has always seemed slightly ahead of its time. Now history might catch up to the 240-acre community that set a precedent for future planned-unit developments across the region.

Members of the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation will consider Thursday and Friday nominating the Oak Hills Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places. If the development is nominated, homeowners who opt in to the district could be eligible for limited tax breaks and other benefits.

Committee members meet Thursday and Friday at the Oak Hills Christian Reform Church, 2800 N.W. 153rd Ave. Thursday’s meeting begins at 1 p.m., with the Oak Hills Historic District proposal scheduled for about 3 p.m. The committee meets again at 9:30 a.m. Friday to discuss other buildings and sites that could be nominated to the national history list.

The proposed Oak Hills Historic District’s nomination is based on the community’s example as one of the first master-planned developments in the region. It’s cluster development of open spaces and neighborhoods was done nine years ahead of when Washington County wrote its planned-unit development ordinance. The community also includes some of the earliest examples of Federal Housing Administration-approved townhouses in Oregon.

Oak Hills is the area bounded by Northwest West Union Road to the north, 143rd Avenue to the east, Bethany Boulevard to the west and Cornell Road to the south. Its 627-dwelling community includes single-family homes, four townhouse clusters, an elementary school, a church, a recreation center and two parks.

Most of the dwellings were constructed between 1965 and 1974. A cluster of five lots was developed in 1978. Another 27 lots were developed between 1994 and 1995.

According to a 27-page nomination report by Portland’s URS Corp., Oak Hills is one of the state’s earliest examples of a master-planned 1960s community that tried to avoid “ticky-tacky” suburban development.

“With its ‘village’ design concept that joined single- and multifamily residences, as well as religious, educational and recreational facilities into a cohesive whole, Oak Hills sought to address many of the negative environmental and social externalities of post-World War II housing developments,” according to the nomination report. “As an early example of an (homeowner association)-governed development, Oak Hills set an important precedent that was replicated elsewhere in the Portland area after 1966.”




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