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Pacers are coming home

DRC allows football games at Lakeridge

Lakeridge fans got what they wanted on Monday night - with some modified conditions.

The Lake Oswego Development Review Commission voted unanimously to allow Lakeridge football to have a home field in the Palisades neighborhood, despite some continued attempts by neighbors to lengthen the process.

Before the DRC began deliberating Monday night, they looked at two citizen requests to extend the hearing time. One citizen felt the process hadn't included the proper documents and another was concerned that there wasn't opportunity for rebuttal of new evidence.

The commission denied both requests, saying that neither were valid reasons to keep the hearing open.

'We are very excited to have received approval and are excited to put our plan into action,' said Stuart Ketzler, district director of finance. 'It is community building for the Lakeridge High School community.'

In general, the DRC felt that the school district had taken all of the necessary measures to comply with the neighborhood.

'There has been a very spirited debate on this facility,' said Bill Tierney, commission chair, who suggested that the typical two-year review be changed to one in this case. 'We don't know if this is going to be a reasonably compatible use over time, even over two years.'

The commission asked that the school district return to the DRC after one year for a review. At that time, the DRC is asking for further study of key areas, such as decibel readings of football games and a traffic count of drop-offs that occur at the field.

Members also added a condition requiring the district to be responsible for trash cleanup.

District officials already have committed to meeting twice a year with the neighborhood to be sure they are doing all they can to be good neighbors.

'The neighborhood has a right to have us look at this on an annual basis,' said commission member Don Richards.

'I would suggest that for many of these issues we're looking for empirical evidence that these have been met,' said Tierney. 'I've participated in this a number of times. I don't want to do it again.'

For commission member Alby Heredia, the issue of the lights was the main thing he felt would not be in compliance.

Currently the lights are to be off by 9:30 p.m. and the district had asked for a 10 p.m. cutoff with an allowance for time past 10 p.m. for football only.

'I would prefer the time be put back to 9:30 p.m. with the exception of varsity football games,' he said.

Dorothy Cofield, the school district attorney, argued that most sports are over by 9:30 p.m. anyway or are played during a season when it stays light outside later.

However, the commission felt that keeping it to 9:30 was more respectful of the neighborhood. Except for football games, which can go until they are finished, the field lights will go off by 9:30 p.m., with safety lights remaining on for another 15 minutes to allow for exiting the field.

The decision puts the wheels in motion for the district to begin working on details to make it possible to have a home football game next fall. This includes working on things like parking agreements and ordering bleachers.

'We will be severely challenged to have it by Friday, Aug. 29 (the first Lakeridge home game),' said Ketzler. 'But we'll be rolling up our sleeves here to try to make it happen as soon as we are able.'