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Bull Mountain hearing draws divided crowd

In the first of two public hearings, county commissioners hear pros, cons of incorporation

HILLSBORO - It was standing room only at Tuesday night's public hearing in Hillsboro before the Washington County Commissioners, the first to be held on the proposed boundaries for a new Bull Mountain City.

A second hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The meeting, which drew public officials, Tigard residents and Bull Mountain residents, was unusually cordial and the speakers unusually articulate in stating their views.

'Why bring our problems to you? In an ideal world we should have been able to work it out,' said Dick Franzke, one of the chief petitioners for incorporating Bull Mountain, speaking of the Bull Mountain residents' relationship with the city of Tigard.

'I've reflected on that a lot. We've all heard of the generation gap. I think that's the situation here, except we have a governance gap,' he said. 'We have very different views on how our area should be governed.'

Franzke and others involved with the group Bull Mountain Residents for Incorporation filed a petition with the Washington County Elections Office asking that voters be allowed to choose on Nov. 7 whether a new city, called Bull Mountain, should be formed.

The proposed boundaries include about 1.7 square miles and would include land south of Barrows Road, north of Beef Bend Road and east of Roy Rogers Road to the city of Tigard's current city limits.

The Washington County Commissioners are reviewing the petition, the boundaries and an economic feasibility statement that describes how the city would be financially viable.

After the public hearings, the commissioners are scheduled to decide on Aug. 8 whether or not the proposal should be on the November ballot.

They may also add or withdraw properties from the proposed boundaries in response to the testimony or their own judgment.

In a report prepared for the commissioners, county staff said Tuesday they had concerns regarding the level of law enforcement service proposed for the new city (four uniformed officers) and with funding for operation of the local road system and street lighting in the city's boundaries.

Officials from the city of Tigard and the city of Beaverton also submitted testimony saying they are concerned about police, parks and library services being underfunded if the new city is formed.

'The property tax rate won't achieve everything the residents want to achieve,' said Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen.

The statement recommends an initial tax rate for the new city of $2.84 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In response, Franzke said he and the others believed the tax rate was adequate - and that if services needed to be increased in some areas, such as law enforcement, the new city would have the resources to make that decision.

'We take to heart the comments, the suggestions and the criticisms,' he said. He also added, in response to the questions about the new city's resources to buy parkland, that the city would manage.

'No, we cannot immediately go out and buy park land. It'll take time,' he said. 'But what will happen is a new attitude - an aggressive effort to address our problem.'

Officials from the city of Tigard also officially requested the commissioners remove 61.5 acres from the proposed city's boundaries, clearing the way for the land to be annexed to Tigard. The land includes 33 acres of publicly owned land that contain regional water reservoirs and 28 acres of private property.

Bull Mountain residents testified in opposition to the idea. Dawn Phillips, speaking for state Rep. Jerry Krummel, also testified that Krummel opposed the idea.

'This appears to be an attempt to circumvent the process,' Phillips said.

In the end, despite their concerns, Tigard officials said they preferred incorporation of Bull Mountain to it remaining unincorporated county land.

'We will not let our concerns get in the way. We hope you put it on the ballot and everyone votes yes,' said Tigard City Councilor Nick Wilson.

What's Going On?

- A group of Bull Mountain residents submitted a petition to the county, asking that voters be allowed to decide in November whether to create a new city to be called Bull Mountain.

- More than 8,000 people would be within the new city's boundaries.

- The boundaries include about 1.7 square miles, and the proposal is to include land south of Barrows Road, north of Beef Bend Road and east of Roy Rogers Road to the city of Tigard's current limits.

- If county commissioners agree to place the issue on the ballot in November, Bull Mountain residents would also vote on the same ballot to elect their new city council members. If approved, the new city would be legally formed 20 days after election day.

- A workshop for those interested in running for the new city council will be held in August. More information is available at www.cityofbullmountain.org. A study that examined how the city would be financially viable is also available on that Web site.

- A county review of the petitioners' economic feasibility statement for the new city is available at http://www.co.washington.or.us/deptmts/lut/planning/BullMt/Staff_report.html.

More Comments

The following are random comments made during the Bull Mountain incorporation hearing before the Washington County Commissioners July 25.

- 'This proposal is before you to once and for all end the contentious issue of governance on Bull Mountain.' - Lisa Hamilton Treick, executive director of Friends of Bull Mountain and one of the chief petitioners for incorporating.

- 'I'm concerned about the tax base. It grossly underestimates costs.' - Michael Freudenthal, resident of unincorporated Bull Mountain and chairman of Tigard's parks and recreation department.

- 'I'm a convert to incorporatin on Bull Mountain. The city of Tigard does not and cannot represent my interests.' - Roy Hendrick, resident of unincorporated Bull Mountain for 30 years.

- 'Please give us this constitutional right.' - Tom Fergusson, unincorporated Bull Mountain resident.

- 'I have come to conclude there is no status quo. We are going to be part of one city. I'd rather it be Bull Mountain.' - Helen Hunce, a resident of unincorporated Bull Mountain.

- 'I think (Tigard) overplayed the police and safety issues. The reality is the Bull Mountain area has a very low crime rate.' - Steven Burke, unincorporated Bull Mountain resident.

- 'I'm opposed. It is not a good idea. It creates a new government that is unnecessary and inevitably more costly.' - Robert Meuries, unincorporated Bull Mountain resident.

- 'I like being part of Washington County. I'm very satisfied with the services I receive. I'd like it to stay that way.' - Brian Pautz

- 'Targeting Bull Mountain residents as using services we don't pay for is unfair and unrealistic.' - Madaluyn Utz, Friends of the Library board member and resident of unincorporated Bull Mountain.

- 'We want to remain an island.' - Tracy Goff.