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Stafford Hamlet vision moves ahead

With professional help, residents of the Stafford Hamlet are discussing their future

Residents of the Stafford Hamlet are not sitting idly by while other governments take control of their destiny, according to Dave Adams and Carol Yamada, two of the hamlet leaders.

The hamlet is now in a visioning process, which ultimately will set from three to six thematic visions for the development of the Stafford area.

Visioning is being conducted as a grass roots effort, with the final decision determined by a consensus of the people who live in the Stafford Hamlet. Located in an area generally called Stafford Triangle.

Consensus is a key word, Adams says, because - in addition to people with views in the middle - the hamlet has a number of people he calls either 'pavers or savers.' Those comprise people who would, if allowed, build extensive commercial or high-density housing as well as those who would just like the area to remain untouched.

'Through a series of elimination votes,' Adams said, 'the community will select the vision - through a democratic process - that best represents the majority vision.'

The visioning process, which began nearly 18 months ago, is now being aided by a consultant, a visioning committee of local residents, and soon will have the assistance of University of Oregon professor Rob Ribe, director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, and a research team comprised of UO students.

Ribe has experience working with what Adams calls 'conflicted communities,' since he was involved in the development of Damascus' visioning process.

A series of 10 grass roots meetings, one for each geographical area of the hamlet, is being conducted this month, with seven meetings still to be held.

Residents of any of the 10 Stafford neighborhoods can attend any of the meetings - even if it is not in their neighborhood, Adams said.

A list of meetings and their dates and locations is available on the Stafford Hamlet Web site at www.staffordhamlet.org.

'We're making all kinds of avenues open for people to let their ideas be heard,' Adams said. 'It's an exciting time, and we really need people to participate.'

Participants will be asked to help identify the assets of the hamlet, including physical, historical, visual and any others.

The visioning committee also is doing an aesthetic survey and collecting photographs during March that will be used in the visioning process. Residents are being asked to contribute photos, either digital or prints, showing what they consider the good, bad and ugly.

Photos should show parts of the Stafford Hamlet that illustrate what some of its residents consider worth preserving as well as what areas are not high on any priority list.

Photos also can be taken in other communities to show the photographer's vision of either good or bad.

All photos submitted by March 31 will be brought to a town hall April 19 to aid in the visioning process.

In addition, all of the visions gleaned at the 10 neighborhood meetings will form a basis for discussion at the town hall, which will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Athey Creek Middle School, 2900 Borland Road.

'This will probably be one of the most important town halls that we've had since our initial vote 1½ years ago,' Adams said. 'People should allocate as much time as possible that day.'

'There'll be interest groups,' Yamada said, 'that will discuss some of the popular topics that came from the neighborhood meetings. The groups will be very interactive.'

But the Stafford Hamlet vision won't come directly from the town hall, Yamada said. The town hall is an organized way of collecting information and residents' views.

The advice given by students and staff or UO also will help the hamlet residents form a vision.

Clackamas County wants the hamlet to collaborate with the jurisdictions that surround the Triangle, including West Linn, Tualatin and Lake Oswego as well as the county and Metro. Adams says the hamlet should have intergovernmental agreements with the nearby cities that honor the spirit of the vision.

Incorporating as a city like Damascus did, is one of the options, but Adams says the county is not encouraging that.

Regarding Metro's control over the area, Adams says the choices for the Stafford area include being considered urban reserve, rural reserve or none of the above.

Adams prefers the latter, distancing the area from connection to any urban services of nearby cities.

Among the landowners in the Stafford Hamlet there is a spirit of dedication to open space, Adams says, including a couple of people who own larger parcels of land that are talking about subdividing into about two-acre parcels for small horse ranches. There also is talk about establishing a trail system throughout the hamlet.

But all of the views are yet to be put on the table. That is an ongoing process, and meetings are being held this week and next - throughout March and early April.

For dates and locations, consult www.staffordhamlet.org. The next overall community meeting for the hamlet is Monday at 7 p.m. at Athey Creek Middle School.

For information not available on the Web site, call Yamada at 503-467-6088.