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Ashleys Village plans redevelopment

Boring would see 18 new condominiums, 26 commercial units
by: Marcus Hathcock, The location of the proposed Ashley's development.

In what would be the largest development between Gresham and Sandy in 15 years, the owners of Ashley's Swiss Village hope to make the junction of Highways 211 and 26 more village-like with the addition of 26 commercial units and 18 condominiums.

Ashley's Village LLC - co-owned by Gresham-area brothers Billy and Frank Hartner - has submitted a land-use application to the Clackamas County Planning Division to redevelop the three acres of land surrounding the current commercial area, which includes A and W, a Shell gas station and Nuts on Sports Tavern, among several other businesses.

The developers have been working on plans for the project for about a year, and filed their application with the county in August. The Clackamas County Design Review Board will make a ruling on the application on Friday, Nov. 17.

'This is something that will lend itself well to the surrounding community,' said Marcus Fullard-Leo, Billy Hartner's business partner of seven years and lead developer on the Ashley's project. 'We're excited. It's going to be fun, interesting.'

The 26 new craftstman-style, 3,000-square-foot buildings would be a mix of residential, retail and office space. Eight of the buildings would be single-level commercial units. The remaining 18 would have two floors, which could be purchased individually or as a whole building.

Some of the units feature 16-foot vaulted ceilings, skylights and gables.

'They're really classy inside,' Fullard-Leo said. 'And every single one of them sees Mount Hood out back.'

Ashley's Village, which will vaguely model Fairview Village, calls for construction of the 26 buildings in phases. The first phase would seven commercial buildings - five of which would line Highway 26 - just northeast of the current Ashley's complex.

Phase 2 would add seven more buildings; Phase 3 would see construction of 10 two-story buildings and the last two structures would appear during Phase 4. Fullard-Leo said that after the 26 total buildings are complete, that's it - the group has no plans to expand, and no ability to, either, since surrounding properties are zoned exclusively for farm use.

The developers declined to speculate on the timing of the various phases, should design review approve the application.

'We're going to start slow,' Fullard-Leo said. 'We want to make sure the project is absorbed well in the community, and if any adjustments need to be made, we'll be able to do that.'

Fullard-Leo said there's 'pretty good demand' for what Ashley's Village would offer. The rural setting, the convenient position between Gresham and Sandy and the surrounding amenities make it a uniquely appealing development, he said.

Although the condominiums could appeal to a mass audience, 'We're geared toward the businesses that came out of the home-based business movement of the '90s,' Fullard-Leo said. 'They're still successful, still working for themselves and not able to park in their garage.

'This will create opportunities for small business people to have their own professional space,' he said. 'It's a rare opportunity. This will really pay back to the community.'

Fullard-Leo said that although the price of the condo-style business and residential spaces is yet to be determined, he said it would be competitive in the market, but not as inexpensive as the 'cookie-cutter, throw-it-together' townhouses that are out there.

Although 'mom-and-pop' businesses would be encouraged in the new Ashley's Village, those businesses wouldn't be as successful without the presence of some franchises, Fullard-Leo said.

'Most people aren't going to stop if there aren't some franchise-type tenants in there,' Fullard-Leo said. 'Those businesses will give people an opportunity to stop in a rural community where they wouldn't have normally stopped. And then they'll say, 'Oh my gosh, there's a cute little spa over there.' That will reward the community.'

He noted that the five buildings that would line Highway 26 in Phase 1 would be the most suitable for national brands.

Sandy's opposition

The Ashley's plan is not without its critics, the most vocal of which is the city of Sandy, which claims the development does not meet the criteria of rural commercial and is a violation of the 'Green Corridor Agreement,' which Sandy, Metro and Clackamas County signed 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, who noted that the 'green corridor' would be sliced from 7.5 miles 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.

The city has been fighting development in highway-area Boring since the 1970s, shortly after Oregon set up its land-use planning system with Senate Bill 100.

'Our track record has been pretty good as far as keeping the integrity of that area,' City Manager Scott Lazenby said. 'But it's a constant struggle.'

'We're obviously going to submit a response to this,' Lazenby said. 'We're looking at what rural commercial allows. There are certain issues with our intergovernmental agreement that would have to be addressed.'

For more on Sandy's opposition, click on www.sandypost.com/news/story.php?story_id=116241269811391700 .

Getting approval

Since Sandy successfully fought off a truck dealership and a mail boxes store from coming in across the street from Ashley's, Clackamas County changed its development code to allow a host of businesses in the rural commercial zone, including many that aren't necessarily farm-related (see sidebar).

The code also allows people to live in the upstairs portion of the buildings, as long as it's not the primary use.

'The zoning allows commercial activities that are small in nature,' said Linda Priesz, a planner with the Clackamas County Department of Transportation and Development. 'It only allows each business use or commercial activity to 4,000 square feet.'

As far as the county's major concerns regarding the project, 'We don't have any,' Priesz said. 'The only comments I have heard were from ODOT and our engineering staff,' regarding traffic.

Fullard-Leo said the recently opened Latter-day Saints' stake center across the street generates 'far more traffic on a weekend than will ever come to our thing.'

He noted that a traffic study the group commissioned said that the surrounding roads would easily handle the capacity of the full development, without any modifications.

The development would not be able to obtain a sewer connection, since Boring's ends at the post office more than 2 1/2 miles away. Instead, Ashley's Village plans to use a 10-acre easement for a drainfield and a massive septic system.

'It's more than ample to handle the capacity,' Fullard-Leo said. 'It exceeds capacity flow.'

'We're not asking for any variances,' Fullard-Leo said. 'We're not bending any rules; we're just abiding by those that exist.'

Local response

Members of the Boring Community Planning Organization - the advisory body charged with giving the county comments about local land-use proposals - have been weighing in on Ashley's Village.

'The concerns were traffic, the septic and the concern that it's over-the-top development there,' said Boring CPO Chairman Les Otto. 'There are questions about whether it's a little bit too much, if it will be aesthetically pleasing, fit the rural character - all those sorts of things.'

Although it will be past the comment deadline for the county, the CPO will discuss the proposal at its Nov. 7 meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the Boring-Damascus Grange.

None of the concerns were regarding Ashley's expansion itself.

'The development is a little over the top, but it's zoned rural commercial,' Otto said. 'Something's going to go in there eventually. If they do it the way the plans call for it to be done, it could turn out pretty nice,' Otto said.

Otto says from his experience, he believes the county will approve the development.

'If it doesn't require major improvements to the road and they approve the septic, the county will say go for it,' Otto said. 'The zoning allows for what the zoning allows for. It's zoned commercial.'

The Community Planning Organization members didn't seem to think that the development would affect Boring's chances of being annexed into the Metro region's urban growth boundary next year.

'If the community and the CPO can't see the bull's eye 18 condominiums puts on our corridor, they're wearing blinders,' Malone said. 'If Boring wants to stay a small village, not just the future addition of Damascus that spreads across the highway, they'd be fighting it.'


Some of the businesses allowed in the rural commercial zone as of April

Accounting and income tax services

Antique and second- hand stores

Apparel stores and dressmaking shops

Banks, credit unions, and savings and loans

Barber and beauty shops

Community and government services such as community action agencies, extension services, fire stations, and post offices

Confectionery stores

Exercise and tanning studios

Feed stores, including wholesale and retail sales and storage

Florist and gift shops

Grocery and produce stores

Housewares and household appliance and equipment sales and repair

Museums

Offices for doctors, dentists, chiropractors, naturopathic treatment personnel, and other health service personnel; small clinics; and community healthcare programs

Real estate agencies

Service stations

Taverns

Video rental stores

Wireless telecommunication facilities