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Tigard downtown group asks developers to follow new plan

A letter to developers will be made available at pre-application meetings

TIGARD - City officials are hoping that developers will voluntarily follow the Downtown Improvement Plan, even though there's no law requiring them to do so.

The City Council learned at its Nov. 28 work session that the City Center Advisory Commission is concerned that new development in downtown is not subject to land-use regulations and design guidelines included in the plan.

'(This) could result in projects which are not the proper land use or quality anticipated by the plan,' wrote Phil Nachbar, downtown senior planner, in a memo to the council. 'Staff began the process of developing new regulations for the downtown in June 2006, but final adoption and the public hearing process is not anticipated until July 2007.'

The downtown area, which is roughly bordered by Pacific Highway, Hall Boulevard and Fanno Creek, has been the subject of intense scrutiny and planning for several years, and voters in May 2006 approved forming an urban renewal district to fund improvements.

Plans to revitalize the area include enhancing the area around Fanno Creek, replacing some buildings with ones that feature businesses on the ground level and residences on the upper floors, and adding a public plaza, artwork, new streetlights, landscaping, fountains and improved streets in the area.

The catalyst for the improvements was the coming of the commuter rail system between Wilsonville and Beaverton, which will include a new transit station on Commercial Street. City officials and businesspeople hope that the rail project will bring many new people to downtown Tigard, and they want to have services and amenities ready to serve them.

The CCAC submitted a letter that will be made available at pre-application meetings to all applicants undertaking new development or major construction in the downtown area.

The letter states in part that the CCAC's vision of downtown is 'an active urban village at the heart of our community, pedestrian-oriented, accessible by many modes of transportation, one which recognizes natural resources as an asset, and enables people to live, work, play and shop in an environment that is uniquely Tigard.'

Furthermore, the letter to developers states, 'We are concerned that the timing of your project precedes investment of the land-use and design guidelines that we hold to be very important, if not critical, to promoting quality and a sense of permanence in redeveloping our downtown.

'We ask that as you proceed with your design development and feasibility analysis to please be sensitive to the vision and expectation of Tigard residents who have voted for and expect nothing less than an improved downtown.

'Please join us in creating an urban village that embodies quality and permanence, an urban village that is pedestrian-oriented and an urban village that compliments the expanded open space identified in the downtown plan.'

The letter is signed by CCAC member Carl Switzer.