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Input on Lake Grove plan aired at hearing

Neighborhood groups are showing support for a plan set to shape the future of Lake Grove but businesses are still wary of proposed standards for new development, sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, public plazas.

The Lake Grove Village Center Plan, aimed at Boones Ferry Road between Kruse Way and Madrona Street, also calls for a center median on the road.

Residents of neighborhoods affected by the plan - including Waluga, Lake Grove, Lake Forest, Holly Orchard - offered testimony before the Lake Oswego Planning Commission Oct. 23.

They made mostly positive remarks about the Lake Grove Village Center Plan's ability to improve pedestrian access to Boones Ferry Road, retain trees and draw firm boundaries between commercial properties and adjacent neighborhoods, though two groups said they would not support an 'adjustments' section added by city planners to give flexibility to some developers.

'Generally we believe people are getting something that sustains what they want to see: Protecting their individual homes and providing a great place for their families to live without major controversy,' said Jeff Novak, chair of the Waluga Neighborhood Association.

Novak encouraged buffers between commercial zones and neighborhoods and he and others suggested periodic review of the plan. Waluga's biggest concern, Novak said, is the feeling of loss of neighborhood as the tree canopy is eroded and traffic encroaches. Overall, he said, there is support for the plan's aim to curb those problems.

Barbara Zeller, chair of the Lake Grove Neighborhood Association, said the plan's attention to trees and incentives for green builders were a plus but could go farther. She lauded the plan for maintaining a unique vision of Lake Grove, one unlike the downtown Lake Oswego commercial district and nearby Bridgeport Village.

The Lake Forest Neighborhood Association echoed that support and praised the process used to develop the plan: Three years of workshops with a citizen committee.

'For three years we have been in awe watching the committee struggle with potentially polarizing issues only to have compromise from all parties lead to consensus after consensus. The end result is a great plan,' said Cathy Shroyer, speaking on behalf of the association.

Concerns about the plan's impact on business continue, however, and the overall cost of proposed public improvements - such as road improvements - are at issue for both neighborhood and business interests. A mix of neighborhood and business advocates voiced concern about the plan's potential price tag and the harm it could cause businesses.

Bob Harding, chair of the Holly Orchard Neighborhood Association, said the plan's cost will be added to those of other proposed projects around town, including a community center. He said those costs and elements of the plan would ultimately erode business, steering Lake Grove shoppers downtown.

'This community enjoys a cordial relationship with businesses. Citizens do not want to see small businesses squeezed out in favor of development just for the sake of the strength of the tax base,' said Harding.

Frank Vandeventer, owner of two Lake Grove properties with a background in construction (including projects like Orenco Station in Hillsboro), also commented on the potential business impacts of the plan.

Vandeventer said any restriction the plan places on property will damage Lake Grove's retail potential and that the Lake Oswego Planning Commission should hold off on putting a median on the Boones Ferry Road until alternate parking in city-owned lots is a reality.

'At least in the short term, being a 20-year plan, if you go in and put in a median on Boones Ferry, I'm a firm believer after 35 years experience, that your going to damage the local retail businesses,' he said. 'I think you'd be doing a grave injustice to the businesses that exist there to put that median in in the next five to six years without the ability to get that other development working where you can have your parking lots.'

Other business owners, several of them active in planning for the Lake Grove Village Center Plan, voiced support for its ability to offer safety on Boones Ferry Road without compromising business access.

An alternate plan, one that called for a center turn lane on Boones Ferry Road, would have forced businesses to consolidate driveways to reduce turn conflicts into the lane. They emphasized the importance of putting some plan in place for Boones Ferry Road to combat competition from the pedestrian-friendly Bridgeport Village nearby. They also said a plan crafted by citizens, not by policymakers, is best for Lake Grove.

'It does represent an excellent and hard-fought compromise between the interests and desires of both the residents and business interests in Lake Grove,' said Chuck O'Leary, owner of the Lake Grove building.

The Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce is also supporting the plan. Jerry Wheeler, chief operating officer of the chamber, said the agency has had dialogue with business groups both in favor and against the proposal and would like to see it move ahead for now.

'At this point in time we are endorsing the process. We want it to continue to move forward. We think that's the approach that needs to be taken,' Wheeler said.