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Growth doesnt have to be bad

Since three of the March 12 letters to the editor regarding Sandy Style deal with the same underlying issues about what I said, I've decided to respond to them together.

What we are talking about is not the issue of growth vs. no growth, but rather planned growth vs. uncontrolled growth. In my guest comment a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Sandy has grown 41 percent since the year 2000.

I said that 'growth happens' and … I advocated that we, the citizens of Sandy, control and lay the groundwork to determine what our city will look like rather than letting uncontrolled growth ruin our community as it has done so many towns and cities across the United States with urban sprawl.

To those who say 'no growth,' I wish it were that simple. The population of the world has more than tripled in the past 100 years.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the United States is expected to increase by more than 50 percent from 1990 to the year 2050. Short of telling people how many children they can have, I'm just not sure how you 'stop growth.' Growth is happening across the country; why should Sandy be exempt from taking on new citizens?

I don't see the 'burden' in Sandy Style. There is nothing in the code that demands current buildings make immediate changes to come into compliance. Regular maintenance is exempt.

What it does say is that new building projects and major remodels must adhere to these guidelines - guidelines that will ensure all of us have nicer-looking buildings to look at, drive by and shop in.

Unfortunately, history has shown that when guidelines are not in place, too many developers will build the least-expensive building that will turn a profit, not buildings that enhance or bring pride to the community.

With more and more holding companies and outside corporations buying up land and owning the buildings our local people have their

businesses in, we need to remember that the landlord making decisions about what that building will look like is likely living somewhere far away from our community.

I would also argue that nice-looking buildings bring in more business … that has got to be good for business owners as well as the

residents of the community. The newly remodeled Shuler Building in Sandy is a perfect example. They did a wonderful job, and people appreciate the care they put into it. I'm also sure that their investment will 'pencil out' - doing business in a building like that invites people to come in.

The ideas put forth to limit growth won't work. However, our City Council and Planning Commission are making a wise choice in protecting Sandy from unbridled growth with the adoption of Sandy Style.

Could they refuse water rights and building permits? Yes. Could we vote down any future annexations? Of course we could. But the growth will still happen, just outside of our city limits. This would mean we would forgo the increased tax base that helps maintain our city, while still feeling the increase of traffic through our town.

Currently an average of more than 35,000 cars drive through Sandy each day. I say let's make it inviting for them to stop, shop and dine in Sandy.

Also, do you want to tell your friends and neighbors who own land in Sandy that they can no longer build here?

I think that 'growth' has often become equated with 'bad growth,' and it does not have to be that way. Growth does not have to mean strip malls and ugly, big-box developments. Growth means that it becomes profitable for businesses to offer increased goods and services. This means local folks won't have to drive to neighboring communities to buy those goods and services, thus keeping those dollars in our community. When it's well-managed, growth can mean less congestion, more prosperity and a wonderful, thriving community.

To anyone who says Sandy has only Joe's Donuts and The Mountain Festival to offer, I disagree. Sandy is a warm, inviting and friendly community. Like Sisters or Leavenworth, Wash., it is situated at the edge of mountains, wilderness and incredible outdoor opportunities.

But unlike Sisters or Leavenworth… we have a large metropolitan area, considered to be one of the best urban environments in America, in our back yard… This means there are a lot of urban dwellers who will visit our year-round attraction, Mount Hood, and all it has to offer.

Will they overrun, drive through or benefit Sandy? We have a say in that outcome. Sandy Style will help.

The Clackamas County Tourism Development Commission says of our area…

'Close to Portland… A World Away.' I agree, and it seems to me we have a lot to offer.

Hollis MacLean-Wenzel is executive director of the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce.