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Tualatin woman to get new neighbors – office buildings

The Miller-Zimmerly Real Estate Investment Group plans to build a $2 million office project next to some townhomes
by: Jonathan House, SOME VIEW — Tualatin resident Leslie Anderson stands in her backyard where the scene of five Douglas fir trees will change drastically in the next couple months as the trees are cut down and replaced with a two-story office building.

TUALATIN - In the next few months, the view from Leslie Anderson's back windows will change drastically. The five Douglas firs that sit on a vacant lot behind her home have provided her with a weather gauge. The towering trees sway when the wind picks up, and carry the softest of white coats when snow falls.

Anderson gets sentimental talking about those trees. Clearly seen from her back windows, the trees have become a part of her home.

Within a few months, they will be gone, replaced with two two-story office buildings and some much shorter landscaping.

'It's disappointing,' Anderson said.

Between Anderson's two-story condominium in Orchard Hills Townhomes Condominium complex on Sagert Road and the Sagert Office Park Subdivision is a narrow strip of land that someday will become a pedestrian/bike path.

But the paved path will be a small buffer between Anderson's own residential backyard and the office development going in down the hill from her.

In March, the Tualatin Architectural Review Board approved with conditions the proposed $2 million, 19,512-square-foot project of Miller-Zimmerly Real Estate Investment Group. The group plans to construct the two-story office buildings in the commercial office planning district located just to the west of the Orchard Hills complex.

And while development happens every day, this is the first time Anderson has ever had it happen so close to her backyard.

'To think these magnificent Douglas fir trees will be taken away in a moment's time for an office building is preposterous. This causes a state of common sense disbelief,' Anderson wrote in a letter sent to city officials and to City Council members last month.

Anderson's comments were not included in the ARB packet, but another Orchard Hill resident's concerns were. Resident Terry Godrich raised concerns about the development falling the trees and depreciating home values in Orchard Hills because 'our lots are backing onto parking structures.'

Through the architectural review process, developers are required to employ an arborist to determine which trees can be saved and which trees need to be removed for a project. In the Miller-Zimmerly project, all five Douglas firs were identified as needing to come down not only for the project, but also for public improvements in the right of way, said Tualatin Community Development Director Doug Rux.

The project also includes landscaping requirements for the development. The landscaping will include the planting of trees.

'Over time these trees will grow,' Rux said.

But Anderson noted that the trees will be no comparison to the towering giants currently on the lot. She has already accepted that in the future instead of watching the majestic limbs of the Douglas firs swaying in the breeze, she'll see some cold concrete and an office building.

Rux noted that at one time the Orchard Hill condo complex was itself full of trees. It was an orchard.