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OC planning leaves unanswered questions

Community members say who will pay for development,

Some community members are raising concerns as Oregon City's concept plan process rolls towards its conclusion for two key parcels of land.

City committees are considering concept plans for areas in the Park Place neighborhood and off Beavercreek Road, across from Oregon City High School and Clackamas Community College. According to city Community Development Director Dan Drentlaw, the development of the plans is 'a requirement before an area can be developed by the city; a concept has to be done before an area can be brought into the Urban Growth Boundary, that's a Metro requirement.'

Members of the committees say the process is proceeding smoothly, but community activist Katherine Kehoe, whose husband is on the Park Place Project Advisory Committee, warned of problems in the future.

'There's a lot of confusion between the concept plan and actual annexation,' she said.

The plan at this stage, she noted doesn't deal with annexing the land or with the details of development.

'It's just basically what the zoning is going to be,' she said - and that isn't enough for some Park Place residents worried about the future of the area.

'A lot of people want questions answered about - is the city going to be able to service the area? There are infrastructure questions - and is the development going to be able to pay for itself?'

Preliminary process

Drentlaw said a total of four committees are working on the two plans - there are 'technical' and 'citizen' committees for each area. In the end they will send plans to the City Planning Commission, which will hold a public process, and the City Commission will make the final decision.

'I think we'll get pretty good agreement in both committees that the plans meet the needs of Metro,' Drentlaw said.

In Park Place, he said, the plan is shaping up for residential development: 'It's focused on the development of two fairly small villages,' he said, 'centered on small neighborhood commercial use, and parks, and maybe some civic-type uses.'

The plan would also call for Holly Lane to be extended from Redland to Holcomb. 'That would be a major new traffic connection,' he said. Swan Avenue could also be extended south to Ogden Middle School.

The land off Beavercreek Road would be treated differently.

'In Beavercreek, the focus is primarily employment - job-producing uses,' Drentlaw said. 'There's a mixture of smaller-scale, mixed-use commercial use with an employment focus like offices, tech-flex employment, space for businesses and light manufacturing.

'The south part has a residential component,' he said, towards Henrici.

Committee member Linda Orzen noted that they're envisioning multi-use housing with galleries or home-offices with housing above: 'We'll try to get some homes with work space - artist studios and people who work from their homes.'

Orzen was optimistic about the progress of the planning effort.

'I think it's coming along quite nicely,' she said. She added that it is proceeding slowly, and with much thought.

'I think the consultants are doing a very good job as they try to coordinate everyone's ideas.'

Trouble ahead?

Katherine Kehoe, however, believes there may be trouble ahead as the community becomes aware of the limits of the concept plans.

'The community is properly involved,' she said, 'and I think everything is going smoothly at this stage of planning.'

However, she said, there's a lot of confusion over what the concept plan means, and what it can do. She said people are looking for answers to questions that aren't addressed at this stage.

'There have been many citizens asking them to make developments tied to the plans,' she said. 'And they say 'it's just a concept plan' - it's conceptual, not set in stone.

She said if those questions don't get addressed, there will be problems when people try to act on the 'concept' and build actual developments.

''What I see happening… once they apply for annexation I don't know whether it goes through.'

The city, she said, is facing a lot of other issues - like fire district annexation and library funding. The school district is concerned, she said, about who will pay for new schools to handle the new developments. The questions have been asked, she said, 'but it's not reflected in the concept plans… it's related to annexation.'