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Staffords future uncertain, but were working on it

I'm writing in response to last week's opinion piece by Dave Adams and the related article by Jim Hart concerning the history and future of the area now known as the Stafford Hamlet.

I have been a resident in Stafford for 32 years and held a position on the Hamlet Board for its first year of formal operation. I did not seek re-election last fall but continue to participate in the work and deliberations of the hamlet's Vision Committee and I have recently hosted one of the 10 'neighborhood' meetings mentioned by Adams and Hart.

While there is a good deal of information provided in the two pieces from last week, I'd like to question some of the statements made and offer some thoughts for Stafford's future and the importance of the efforts being made to deal with growth.

There may be some confusion by your readers as to the current position of the Hamlet Board on matters of growth, the UGB, rural reserves and urban reserves. The board is going through an exhaustive process to develop a vision and a plan based on a number of things, primarily the wishes of the current residents.

Adams resigned from the board in early February. Because Adams is noted as a 'leader' of the Hamlet in the article by Hart and because of his own opinion piece, Adams appears to speak for the hamlet board and a majority of the area's residents.

He does not. Nor do I.

That said, the board has not developed a position, much less published it. This is an important point. The board is undertaking a process to be able to articulate a plan for the future of the hamlet and it's residents. It is doing so with the help of professional organizations and the input from the residents, as correctly noted in the articles.

Adams speaks of 'a vision shared by most folks in Lake Oswego, West Linn and Stafford. That vision is a kind of 'rural reserve.''

I'm not sure how he comes to this conclusion. As noted above, the Stafford Hamlet residents are in a lengthy process of defining and articulating their position. Surrounding city residents have not been asked. The governments of West Linn and Tualatin have not stated a position. The city of Lake Oswego has stated that they do not want either an 'urban' or 'rural' designation assigned to the Stafford area.

One can speculate on that a bit. As far as I'm concerned, the desires of the Stafford residents should take precedence over those of LO, WL or Tualatin. Whether their desires are acknowledged, much less followed, is what's really at stake here.

Adams presents a picture of opposing factions, either 'pavers' or 'savers.' Neither of these positions will prevail. The 'savers' (criticized as the 'do nothing' group) seem to be shoveling sand against the tide. The UGB will eventually take Stafford into the metro area.

Doing 'nothing' for me is not an option. A strong organization funneling the feelings of the area's residents into a 'plan' is the only option to control our own destiny. Categorizing some as 'pavers' is entirely misleading.

I have worked with large - as well as many small - landowners in the area for 15 years and, additionally, manage an 80 acre farm here. I can tell you that none of the folks I have spoken with on the subject want high density at the expense of the pastoral flavor and green space within the area. But all would like to see a plan that preserves watersheds and viewsheds, designates green space and adds parks, paths and has adequate roads for increased traffic.

Many of the small landowners would like to eventually divide their parcels for children or retirement. The residents attending the neighborhood meeting I hosted on March 11 were unanimous in stating that zoning in our area should not be below one acre and that any development should avoid inconsistent land uses. That doesn't sound like 'pavers' speaking.

It is not helpful to continue to characterize the residents as either 'pavers' or 'savers.' Polarization will lead to inaction.

Unfortunately, there are some that are working toward that end. My observation is that the vast majority of landowners in the Stafford Hamlet are eager to accept managed growth with protections for the pastoral nature of our area and with the ability to designate the locations for higher density when complying with residential expansion mandates.

Doing nothing will simply set Stafford up as a target for surrounding communities.

Mike Miller lives in the Stafford Hamlet.