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'Good Neighbor Plan' draft outlines design, operation of LO water plant in West Linn

A plan outlining expectations for a proposed water plant expansion is on the table in West Linn's Robinwood neighborhood as a two-city water initiative moves ahead with plans to upgrade and enlarge Lake Oswego's water infrastructure.

The draft 'Good Neighbor Plan' is the product of six months of discussions between water partnership representatives and neighbors of Lake Oswego's treatment plant, said Jane Heisler, communications director for the water partnership.

In a nutshell, the plan informs facility and overall site design, construction and ongoing operation of the water plant, which was built on Kenthorpe Way in West Linn in the 1960s.

The two-city initiative involves Lake Oswego and Tigard, which joined forces in 2008 to share water resources and costs. The plant expansion, doubling the amount of water treated from 16 million gallons a day to up to 38 million gallons, is one of the most expensive elements of $230 million in planned projects, which also include building a new intake facility along the Clackamas River in Gladstone, upsizing pipes, building one new reservoir in Lake Oswego and replacing a Tigard pump station.

Heisler said partnership representatives are also now working on a 'Plan B' conceptual design to present at a special neighborhood meeting. The plan will show what the plant expansion might look like if limited to its current location on Kenthorpe Way.

The 15 minutes allotted to the group at the last neighborhood meeting didn't provide enough time to go over those ideas, she said.

However, skipping the presentation of an alternate plan then raised a few eyebrows in Robinwood.

The only expansion plan under serious consideration so far requires building out water treatment facilities onto four lots Lake Oswego owns along Mapleton Drive.

Until now, the plant, on Kenthorpe Way, has been largely invisible to residents to the south on Mapleton.

Building on those lots, which are part of what is known as the Maple Grove plat, requires a waiver of deed restrictions limiting Mapleton Drive development to single-family homes. Lake Oswego must obtain approval from a majority of Mapleton residents to extend treatment operations to those lots.

The Lake Oswego City Council recently delayed voting on a resolution that could pave the way for eventual condemnation of the deed restrictions, or possibly of area properties, if neighbors refuse to sign off on the plan.

Meanwhile, a group of project critics is working to rally opposition to Lake Oswego's expansion plans.

They say Lake Oswego should look to redevelop its water system in its own city limits if it wants to serve Tigard.

And they're urging residents to fight the project. Neighborhood association members will vote next month on whether to formally oppose the water partnership plans.

They've ordered yard signs featuring statements such as 'A good neighbor does not condemn covenants' and 'Stop Oswego water plant expansion in West Linn.'

'There are a lot of unanswered questions,' said Eric Jones, who grew up on Mapleton Drive. His mother, in her 80s, still lives there.

He wants to know more about property value impacts of the plant's spread to Mapleton, and he wants to know whether the facility can withstand a significant earthquake without releasing harmful chemicals or floodwaters into the surrounding neighborhood.

'But a bigger question is: Can a utility come into another city's jurisdiction and not even condemn land, but condemn covenants, on property they purchased with those covenants in place?' Jones asked.

'This is like a mortgage-holder after the fact saying they don't like a condition of their mortgage and trying to remove it.'

Some are also unhappy they weren't approached to discuss plans for Mapleton Drive before the broader neighborhood became involved. The creation of a 'Good Neighbor Plan' began before Lake Oswego started working to secure waivers.

Robinwood Neighborhood Association President Thomas Boes said at that point he had no idea of the water partnership's intent to build on Mapleton Drive. Back then, he thought the expansion would be concentrated on Kenthorpe Way.

Still, he feels the draft Good Neighbor Plan is a 'fair representation' of Lake Oswego and Tigard representatives' discussions with residents.

For example, the plan highlights a commitment to help build a new pedestrian path in the neighborhood, a goal under discussion long before the treatment plant proposed an expansion.

'There are two ways a project like this can happen; one way it can happen is without any input from the neighborhood at all,' Boes said.

'The value of a plan like this is you actually get the (stakeholders) involved in the discussion,' he said. 'You're going to have people who don't like what's happening, but they're going to get to provide input.'

An ongoing concern, he added, would require communication between the cities. Boes hopes Lake Oswego planners will coordinate work with West Linn city staff, piggybacking construction work where multiple projects are planned.

'We've been encouraging them to work with the city to make overall improvements wherever their project impacts a place in the city where changes are already being proposed,' Boes said. 'If you're going to have to rip up the road, why do it twice?'

In other news involving the water treatment plant plans:

--- Lake Oswego officials have secured a waiver of development-limiting deed restrictions from the Oregon State Parks Commission, which owns property in the subdivision on Mapleton Drive. But the city, with about 20 signatures, isn't even close to acquiring the 57 waivers it needs from 75 property owners.

--- The Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership is scheduled for a pre-application conference with planners at West Linn City Hall March 31. The meeting is the first step in applying for a land-use permit for a new 48-inch water transmission line across the Willamette River and through West Linn to Lake Oswego via the treatment plant in Robinwood.

What's next?

The Robinwood Neighborhood Association will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. March 29 at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, 19200 Willamette Drive in West Linn. Lake Oswego-Tigard representatives will discuss what a treatment plant expansion might look like if concentrated on Kenthorpe Way rather than expanding to Mapleton Drive.

The neighborhood will hold a regular meeting at 7 p.m. April 12 at Robinwood Station, a community center located in a former fire hall at 3706 Cedaroak Drive. The agenda includes a discussion of the draft Good Neighbor Plan for the water plant project. It also includes a vote on whether the neighborhood association should formally oppose any plant expansion by the Lake Oswego-Tigard partnership.