(Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. Ken Henschel has lived with his family on unincorporated Bull Mountain for 11 years.)
On March 6 Tigard City Councilor Gretchen Buehner testified before an Oregon House committee on 'island annexation' that since the Nov. 7, 2006, election, Tigard 'has received almost 100 requests for annexation to our city.'
However, in 'Tigard Revamps City's Annexation Strategy' in the March 16 Oregonian, Tigard City Manager Craig Prosser noted that Tigard 'has received dozens of letters from residents in unincorporated areas who want to come into the city.'
Which is it, a hundred or dozens? Maybe next week another Tigard city leader will tell us the more likely scenario that 'a handful of property owners' have asked to annex to Tigard. Tigard should get its story straight and stop playing with the facts in an effort to 'sell' skeptical Bull Mountain property owners on the dubious advantages of annexing to Tigard.
Nothing has changed in the ongoing conversation since Bull Mountain voters voted 9-1 against annexing to Tigard a few short years ago. Tigard has continued its annexation assault on Bull Mountain, even during the area's attempt to form its own city.
Now Tigard is spinning that its a 'kinder, gentler' city with a 'non-aggressive' annexation policy. Yet in City Council meetings, and in her testimony before the state, Tigard Councilor Buehner advocates for a city's right to annex roads or public rights-of-way to purposely surround an area and make it an 'island,' which then can be forcibly annexed by a city without a vote from the affected residents. She noted in her state testimony that 'the city has chosen not to have an aggressive policy about islands for many years,' but she failed to mention that other aggressive policies of Tigard have actually created many islands during that time; Tigard just hasn't annexed them yet. That's like buying a stock of fine wine to keep in your wine rack; inevitably it will be consumed.
Councilor Buehner forged on in the state hearing to pose the insulting question, 'Are cherry-stem annexations something we should be looking at?'
Less than a week later, the Tigard City Council, in an ambiguous, incredibly worded resolution passed on March 12, unanimously resolved that 'the city shall not resort to involuntary annexation of unincorporated land, except in cases where it is found that such action is in the city's overall interest.'
The folks on unincorporated Bull Mountain are much too smart to be hoodwinked by the city of Tigard's continued doubletalk, and Tigard should stop insulting us by pretending that it has changed its annexation agenda. Their actions speak louder than its stated 'non-aggressive' policies.
Tigard should be on notice that those of us who have fought Tigard's continued annexation efforts have not gone away, and we will continue to fight to protect our right to avoid having governance thrust upon us in a spin-job by the Tigard City Council.