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Lake Grove proposals about to be aired

by: Sam Bennett, 
Boones Ferry Road in Lake Grove is at the heart of proposed changes, which include a median down the arterial.

After nearly a year of work, the Lake Oswego Planning Commission is preparing to hand off to the city council a series of proposed changes that could redefine the look and feel of Lake Grove.

Members of the city's planning department will give the council a briefing Tuesday on the draft Lake Grove Village Center Plan and a host of zone amendments. It will be held during the 6 p.m. council meeting at city hall.

'It's a milestone, as we end the planning commission work and start with the city council,' said Paige Goganian, associate planner with the city.

The planning commission expects to adopt the recommended changes by late November, and the council will likely begin public hearings and open houses in the first of the year.

The planning commission has been working with recommendations from the Lake Grove Village Center Advisory Committee. The committee envisions a downtown Lake Grove that is more pedestrian friendly, has enhanced landscaping and trees, improved crossings on Boones Ferry and parking behind businesses, to make the area more pedestrian friendly.

The Village Center Plan is a vision for improved streets and sidewalks, 'where there's vitality and character,' said Goganian.

The area stretches a few blocks east and west off Boones Ferry, with Kruse Way bordering the north and Madrona at the south.

The plan seeks to improve or add transportation options, including walking, cycling, public transit and car travel.

A landscaped median along Boones Ferry, the major arterial, would prevent dangerous left turns off Boones Ferry and would improve the look of the street. The medians could be designed as sustainable elements that would manage stormwater.

The plan also calls for bike lanes and 'continuous and adequate sidewalks,' Goganian said.

As Lake Grove has developed, businesses have provided driveways off Boones Ferry, which creates a hazard as motorists enter and exit the driveways, according to city planning officials.

The plan also calls for public parking facilities and three additional traffic signals on Boones Ferry.

All of the proposed changes would need to go through traffic and safety analyses, Goganian said.

In addition, the council may consider proposed height exceptions for designated parcels. Two parcels off Boones Ferry along Oakridge Road could be zoned for 45 feet, rather than the current 35 feet. The change would allow taller buildings, on the condition that they are mixed-use residential developments.

'As we grow, where do we put people?' Goganian said. 'This plan looks at having more people live in this urban area, so we don't have to go into the established, low-density neighborhoods.'

That was the idea behind a proposal the city's planning staff made to the planning commission at Monday's meeting. The staff asked whether commission members would consider zoning a parcel at the northwest corner of Kruse Way and Boones Ferry to allow a residential-only development, with no ground-floor retail.

Committee Chair Daniel Vizzini said he preferred to have a mix of commercial and residential there.

'My gut is telling me no,' he said, referring to an all-residential development at that corner. 'I want to continue to infuse housing in these districts,' he said. 'But I don't want to undermine the mix of commercial and residential.'

Goganian said it's too early to know what the cost of the plan will be. The council will consider paying for the improvements through an urban renewal district or tax increment financing.