Sandy cries foul on Ashleys project
City officials claim development violates Green Corridor Agreement
The proposal to build 26 commercial buildings with 18 condominiums at Ashley's Village was quickly condemned by the city of Sandy, which claims the development is a violation of a city-county intergovernmental agreement.
Sandy, Metro and Clackamas County signed the 'Green Corridor Agreement,' in the early 1990s with the intent of keeping the rural separation between Sandy and Gresham intact.
'One of the most important things to the citizens of Sandy is to maintain our sense of separation, because that separation continues to reinforce our sense of identity,' said Mayor Linda Malone. 'You always know when you leave Sandy because there's a rural section and then you enter Gresham. There's a certain peace of mind that comes with that separation.'
Malone said the 'green corridor' extends about 7.5 miles between Sandy and Gresham. The development, she says, would cut that separation down to about 2.5 miles.
'Then you might as well just throw in the towel,' she said. But that's not what the city plans to do.
City officials plan to dispute the developers' and the county's belief that the mixed use development fits the county's definition of rural commercial.
'When I read the rural commercial definition it's to serve the needs of a small, rural community,' Malone said.
'We're obviously going to submit a response to it,' said City Manager Scott Lazenby. 'We're looking at what rural commercial allows. There are certain issues with our intergovernmental agreement that would have to be addressed.'
The city has been fighting development in highway-area Boring since the 1970s, shortly after Oregon set up its state's land-use planning system with Senate Bill 100.
'In one of the early test cases, a development was proposed in that area,' Lazenby said. 'The city was the main party (against it), but was backed by 1000 Friends of Oregon and a bunch of others and won at the Land Conservation and Development Commission.'
In the past, landowners have tried to set up other developments in the Boring area that the city has successfully lobbied against on the basis that the weren't rural commercial projects. 'We fought the Forest Service office being put at that intersection and it went to a more appropriate spot,' Malone said. 'We fought stuff across the street, too.'
The argument of attorneys representing a proposed truck dealership and mailbox rental store was that farmers use such services.
'By that argument,' Lazenby said, 'farmers use supermarkets or anything. We won very quickly at LUBA,' the Land Use Board of Appeals. A koi fish and nursery products shop sits there now.
'Our track record has been pretty good as far as keeping the integrity of that area,' Lazenby said. 'But it's a constant struggle.'
The difference, however, is that the county changed what it allows in rural commercial zones this past April (see sidebar). Many businesses that wouldn't necessarily be identified with rural living are now permitted.
But even if the county disagrees with Sandy and allows the development to happen, the city plans to push for enforcement of the Green Corridor Agreement.
'If we can't stop the Hartners' project, what we can do at the hearing is require that the county enforce the part of the green corridor agreement that requires screening from the highway,' Malone said. She said that would be done by putting up some vegetation, a fence or 'something to make it so you can't see it from the highway.'
Malone faulted Clackamas County for not giving the city adequate notice of the proposed development. 'They didn't think to mail it in to us. We should have been notified at the very latest the end of August; now we're sitting here 2.5 months later. That really kind of ticks me off.'
She said this is a test to see if the county will hold true to its intergovernmental agreement. 'If the treatment of this (agreement) doesn't exist, then it's kind of a sham,' she said. 'At any time they can say they don't want the agreement anymore, but to give us lip service and say they want to work together while blatantly disregarding the process really erodes our trust in the county.'
The problem, city officials say, isn't the project. It's the location.
'We support it - at the right place,' Lazenby said. 'Gresham to the west would love a mixed use condo/commercial. We do too. The new city of Damascus will have acres and acres of opportunity for that.'
In response to the city of Sandy's concerns, Marcus Fullard-Leo of Ashley's Village, LLC said, 'We're open to discussion. All they gotta do is give us a call; we'll happy to talk about it.'
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