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Cities bristle at Stafford area feasibility forums

Despite opposition from the cities of Tualatin and West Linn, Clackamas County is going ahead with a series of forums to explore the inclusion of the Borland-Stafford area into the urban growth boundary.

The county, along with representatives of Metro, will hold four forums, with the first set for Nov. 5.

The purpose of the forums is to educate and discuss the future planning of the Borland-Stafford area if it is brought inside the Portland Metropolitan Urban Growth Boundary.

According to an Oct. 13 West Linn staff memo to the city council: 'The reason the county is pursuing the matter now is to enable discussion of the contentious issues around growth without the pressure of a looming UGB expansion deadline. The hope is that the discussions will clarify whether any of the area should be considered for concept planning.'

The first meeting will explore capacity and density, with future meetings discussing transportation, public services and infrastructure and governance.

The Borland-Stafford area is bordered by West Linn, Tualatin and Lake Oswego. It's about 4,000 acres and was designated as an urban reserve last year, putting it in line for future inclusion in the urban growth boundary. West Linn and Tualatin objected to that designation in an 18-page letter.

Although city of Lake Oswego officials declined to join West Linn and Tualatin in hiring attorneys to fight the decision, the city has also long taken a position against urbanization of Stafford.

Without the official designation and no concept plan, members of the West Linn City Council said the forums are premature.

John Sonnen, West Linn planning director, said there should be a concept plan first to address housing needs, infrastructure and services.

The county initiated the forums with the Stafford Hamlet without inviting neighboring cities, which did not sit well with the West Linn City Council or the city of Tualatin. The cities contend they should have been involved in the formative stages of the planning of the forums.

'We are dismayed that the county has not engaged in conversation about this project with the adjacent cities of West Linn and Tualatin prior to planning and setting dates for these community forums,' Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden wrote in a letter dated Oct. 7 to Clackamas County Commissioner Charlotte Lehan.

If the Borland-Stafford area is included in the UGB, its development would affect Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn in multiple ways.

One area of concern is transportation. How are the existing major thoroughfares going to handle the extra load of vehicles?

'The main reason we, as a city, need to be concerned is there isn't any room on I-205. It's a parking lot,' said West Linn councilor Teri Cummings at a Oct. 17 work session. 'I'm shocked and dismayed they would even do this.'

Another area of major concern is governance, which some felt should be the first forum topic. When developed, one of the neighboring cities will have to provide services.

According to Kirsten Wyatt, West Linn assistant city manager, the issue of governance will be very topical, with each community discussing if it is in its best interest to control the land-use decisions that are made in the areas immediately adjacent to its existing boundaries.

Voter approval would be needed to annex the property into West Linn.

'There's a lot of factors,' said West Linn councilor Jody Carson. 'This is really premature. A lot of this information isn't there.'

Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn mayors and planning staff representatives met with Lehan and county planning staff on Oct. 10 to discuss their positions.

Lehan said that although there was interest in including Borland property in a UGB expansion this year, preparations were not completed in time. The next possible UBG expansion is in 2016, which could then include both the Borland and Stafford areas.

According to Wyatt, neighboring cities have no role in the decision process of the UGB 'despite vociferous opposition to potential inclusion because of the substantial impact that inclusion would have on the cities.'

However, last year, Metro adopted a new Title 11 to its Regional Functional Plan, which states the county and the city responsible for providing urban services should develop a concept plan for the area prior to its inclusion to the UGB.

'Because this was recently adopted, we do not have an example of how this will work,' Wyatt said.

The city of West Linn has stated clearly that it has no interest in developing the Stafford area any time soon, according to Sonnen.

All the councilors at the Oct. 17 work session expressed concern about the forums and the process.

'I'm just really concerned about the process here,' said councilor Jenni Tan. 'It's a disconnect for me.'

'I definitely plan on going,' said Carson of the meeting. 'It's critical to hear what is being said. This is not the time or place to pursue concept planning.'

'You can't do anything to stop it,' said councilor Mike Jones.

'We are actively opposing this,' Cummings said. 'They are not following their own rules.'

'It looks like this is going ahead; what we have to decide is what participation we have,' said Mayor John Kovash. 'We don't get a vote.'

The forum will be held Nov. 5 starting at 9 a.m. at Athey Creek Middle School, located at 2900 S.W. Borland Road in West Linn.