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Revised infill standards eyed

A task force studying infill in Lake Oswego has crafted a slate of amendments to the city's 2003 standards governing new construction, one that, if adopted, could curb neighborhood disputes about the character of new housing.

The Infill Task Force, which created the infill standards that were adopted in Lake Oswego in 2003, was reconvened in 2005 to review the effects of the changes made.

'One of the things that's permeated our discussions throughout the task force work is that many of the infill standards … really need to be fine-tuned,' said Ron Kellett, a contract planner who assisted the task force in their work.

The group proposed 13 corrections to the infill standards in a work session with the city council July 11. The meeting drew a crowd of about 40, including key players from neighborhoods most affected by infill. In Lake Oswego, compatibility issues between new and old housing have topped neighborhood concerns in some parts of town, driving several to draft neighborhood plans to control them.

Those overlay districts were top among the task force ideas July 11. The group suggested neighborhood plans or overlay zones would help residents tailor new construction to each section of town.

Other suggested improvements include:

n Requiring design review for houses larger than a certain size;

n Requiring a step back or a slope on the side of second story homes;

n Applying front yard setback to the front and side of corner lots;

n Providing flexibility to preserve trees, such as a point-based system based on the size of landscaping elements;

n Providing greater flexibility for flag lot developments, including allowing houses on flag lots - lots in back of an existing house - to face the driveway rather than requiring them to face the back of another house;

n Sealing loopholes that allow developers to subdivide lots one at a time, avoiding subdivision standards;

n Denying planned developments on lots smaller than 75,000 square feet to prevent undersized lots;

n Applying infill standards to duplexes and single family attached housing, which are currently exempt; and

n Providing greater flexibility on steeply sloped lots.

The Infill Task Force plans more work on the recommendations and will forward its proposal to the Lake Oswego Planning Commission when completed. Hearings and additional meetings will be held at the planning commission level.