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West Linn footprint may grow

More than 38 acres are proposed to be annexed to the city on the May ballot

The city of West Linn soon could get more than 38 acres larger. Each of six pieces of land, ranging from 2 to 16 acres, will be before the city council Feb 11 - each in their final annexation hearing.

Since each of the six annexation requests have passed the muster and received affirmative council votes on their step-one land-use hearing, this time in council chambers it will be a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote based on no specific criteria.

The council's step-two decision is simply: Should the annexation request be placed on the May 20 primary ballot for a decision by local registered voters?

'The (step-two) decision is entirely discretionary by the council,' said Staff Attorney Gordon Howard. 'The council could decide, for any reason that seems relevant, to put the request on the ballot - or not to.'

There will be a public hearing for each step-two proposal, and testimony is not limited to what has been discussed in the past. Anything that seems relevant to a citizen or councilor may be brought before the council for its consideration.

'That's one of the reasons for public hearings in step two,' said Planning Director Bryan Brown. 'Anything anybody has to say could potentially be relevant.'

City staff has recommended in each step-one case that the council approve the annexation proposal because they're all inside the urban growth area that was proposed for West Linn about 30 years ago.

'We believe that they meet all the criteria for consideration of annexation,' Howard said. 'They're all within the urban growth area, and the city has planned for all of them to be annexed at some point.'

Brown emphasized that the city did nothing to promote the annexations.

'We're simply responding to applications that we've received,' Brown said. 'We're not out soliciting them.'

Howard said there's nothing wrong with these proposals.

'This is the Oregon land-use system that's working,' he said. 'These are the properties that West Linn should be considering for development - as opposed to properties that are not inside the urban growth boundary.'

The six pieces of property are mainly in the higher elevations; mainly in the Tanner Basin area; and mainly surrounded by land that has already been annexed into the city, according to Howard. Four of the six have existing residences.

'All six (properties) are within the West Linn urban growth area,' Howard said. 'They're all surrounded on at least three sides by city-annexed land or they're part of larger islands surrounded by city land.'

This is not urban sprawl, he said, it's infill. All of these annexation proposals are currently zoned 'future urban' by Clackamas County, Howard said. 'It's in the county,' he said, 'but it's expected to be annexed into a city.'

During the step-one hearings, the council ordered either R-10 or R-7 (single-family residential) zoning for the future development of these properties. Zoning varies with and is similar to the zoning in each parcel's neighborhood.

But Howard was quick to point out that before development could occur a separate land-use process is required, with public hearings and separate votes of the planning commission and possibly the city council.

'But even if someone's land is annexed and the owner does intend to file for a subdivision,' Howard said, 'once it's annexed they may change their mind or the market conditions might not be good.'

One of the 11-acre annexation proposals has been owned for 40 years, Howard said, and the owners have told Howard that they have no intention of selling it. 'They just want to have it set up,' he said, 'so if they decide to do something in the future it's already in the city.'

Six different properties, six different rationales, Howard said.

One of the noticeable changes when these properties become annexed to the city, Howard said, is that the property owners stop paying some county taxes, and are added to the city's tax rolls. Then they'll pay other city fees and assessments such as levies.

While considering the annexation proposals, Howard said city staff could not identify any 'glaring issues that stood out' in the event that development should be proposed in the future.

Of the voiced objections to step-one annexation, one stands out: local residents' desire to limit growth and development. Local residents have testified to the council about their fear that there would be too many homes, too many people and too much traffic.

'But annexation is not development,' Howard said. 'If (landowners) come in later with a subdivision proposal, we will look at impacts such as traffic or sewer connections - actual physical issues. If someone proposes an annexation and it's approved and then comes in with a subdivision that would overload neighborhood streets, it wouldn't be approved.'

Although the council has said nothing, Howard seemed to predict that the panel would approve all annexation requests Feb. 11.

'This council,' Howard said, 'has a history of saying: 'We're not going to prejudge these. If we have a question about it, we're going to send them forward (to the ballot) and let the voters decide.' '

Brown also sees very little chance that there will be a setback in placing measures on the ballot.

Annexations to come before West Linn City Council

The following annexation proposals will come before the West Linn City Council Feb. 11 for their final hearing before the May 20 primary election.

23000 Bland Circle

Owner(s): Robert Bauer and Harold and Linda Elrod.

Location: Between Bland Circle and Weatherhill Road.

Parcel size: Bauer's land is 1.8 acres, and the Elrods' is 0.7 acres.

22882 Weatherhill Road

Owner: Joe Monahan, West Linn.

Location: South of Weatherhill Road and east of Fircrest Drive.

Parcel size: 2.1 acres

1270 Rosemont Road

Owner: Terwilliger Plaza Foundation, Portland.

Location: South of Rosemont Road, just east of Salamo Road.

Specifics: The land is now vacant. It has some moderate slopes, a creek and a large grove of trees.

19650 Suncrest Drive

Owner: David Sparks, Oregon City.

Location: East of Suncrest Drive and north of Carriage Way.

Parcel size: 3.8 acres completely surrounded by city land.

Wisteria Road/Killarney Drive

Owner: Rosemont Seven, Lake Oswego.

Location: East of Wisteria Road, north of Killarney Drive and west of Bland Circle.

Parcel size: 11.2 acres (vacant).

23150 Bland Circle

Owner: John and Rachel Omlor, West Linn

Location: north of the Bland Circle-Tannler Drive intersection.

Parcel size: 2.8 acres (vacant).