City moves forward with condemnation proceedings

TROUTDALE - City councilors voted unanimously in favor of moving forward with condemnation proceedings, if necessary, to kick-start the urban renewal process for the town's riverfront district.

The decision was made after months of negotiations stalled with Chelsea Property Group, the owners of the Columbia Gorge Premium Outlets, said City Administrator John Anderson.

'This is just to move the process along,' Anderson said. 'We were at an impasse with them.'

City officials had been working with Chelsea to secure access to the former sewage treatment plant site, which would require extending 257th Way through the middle of the outlet mall.

'The council agreed that we should continue to try to negotiate access, but on a purchase basis. If that fails, then we are left with … condemnation,' said Councilor Barbara Kyle.

In May 2006, Troutdale voters approved a $7 million urban renewal district to redevelop the former sewage treatment plant site north of the Historic Columbia River Highway and east of the outlet mall.

In the past, the idea of imminent domain has not been popular in Troutdale.

Previous urban renewal attempts failed when voters sent the issue to the ballot by way of referendum because residents feared the city would condemn their properties.

At the recommendation of the Troutdale Ad Hoc Downtown Redevelopment Committee, the Urban Renewal Agency, which is made up of members of the City Council, does not have condemnation authority. However, Oregon law allows cities to appropriate property for streets and other public purposes, such as parks, or utility work.

'There is a substantive difference,' Anderson said. 'The city is doing it for a public purpose.'

Officials with Chelsea Property Group have yet to respond to the city's most recent letter regarding the possible extension of 257th Way.

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