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Economic development is essential for future

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My family moved to Lake Oswego in 1967. At that time the Foothills area was industrial, including a large cement plant with a tall stack and woodchip loading area for the paper mill. Eventually, the Oswego Pointe development replaced the cement plant and the woodchip plant was purchased by the city for Foothills Park.

Now we have 107 acres of lightly used industrial zoned property left between State Street and the park that is being proposed by the city for the new Foothills residential area. The Foothills framework plan was approved by the city council last week. This sets in motion the needed code and zoning changes for the new district, which will need to be approved by the planning commission and the city council in the next few months.

The assessed property of this area is only about $11 million. Much like our successful downtown redevelopment, an urban renewal district with tax increment financing can be used to create the public infrastructure (roads and utilities) necessary to allow the planned development to go forward. The increase in the property taxes on the development will repay the urban renewal bonds over a 25-year period. The owners will also establish a local improvement district that will assess the property owners for part of the improvements. Systems development charges will also be assessed on the development and used for transportation and parks. The general fund of the city will not be used to pay for these improvements. Excise taxes collected on construction and revenue sharing from the new urban renewal district will benefit our schools.

The private investment in this district will be substantial and ultimately these properties will come back on the tax rolls at full assessment, which will reduce the tax burden for the rest of Lake Oswego. The city will enter into development agreements to make sure that the private investment is actually made as a condition of the public improvements.

Economic development is essential to the success and future of our community. I urge citizens to carefully study the Foothills plan on the city website and learn about this important project so they can make an informed decision next May.

Rob LeChevallier, Lake Oswego, is chair of Keep Lake Oswego Great.