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Cornelius opens its doors to commercial development

Many area citizens have closely watched the physical changes in Cornelius' commercial areas and followed the controversy regarding a possible Wal-Mart store over the last year. Frankly, there are no new grand openings to announce and little news on Wal-Mart to report.

However, that information alone may not put to rest some of the rumors that have spread. Here's a recap of what's happened in Cornelius' commercial corridor and where things stand.

The Cornelius Gateway project on TV Highway and 20th Street is an ambitious public and private development project that is being constructed simultaneously. Kite Development is the overall developer of the private development that created the retail complex on the north side of the highway. Walgreens Pharmacy opened in March and is a busy store.

The three-building complex on the east side of 20th Street is nearly complete. It contains about 21,344 square feet of retail space and can be subdivided. Final inspections of the building construction and site improvements are underway. One of the features is a driveway connecting the area to the Fred Meyer store complex. There are no tenants at this time.

Across the street, Ed Bacon has opened Grand Rental Station. It is also an attractive building and business that offers equipment, tools and other goods for residents, do-it-your-selfers and small contractors. The storage yard is now being completed and several oak trees are being preserved.

The city has received many compliments on the streetlights, fencing and landscaping around the intersection at 20th Street. That theme is slated to continue westward to 11th Street in the next phase of Adair Boulevard 'Main Street' improvements this fall. Reconstruction of the 10th Avenue intersection is scheduled for the fall of 2007.

Moving west, to the northwest corner of Adair and Fourth Street, is the site of the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. The store received all the land-use permits and approvals required. However, a rezoning and change to the city's comprehensive plan is being appealed. Meanwhile, PacLand Development, the developers of Wal-Mart, is working on site-and building-design plans, but have not yet submitted construction plans for building-permit approval.

The rezoning and plan change was requested for the eastern-most two-plus acres of the proposed Wal-Mart site that changed the status from residential to commercial. A group known as Cornelius First has appealed the decision to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. The group was active in the public hearings before the Cornelius Planning Commission and city council during deliberations.

At this point, Cornelius First has submitted its brief and the City of Cornelius and PacLand Development will respond. A legal decision is expected by mid-August.

While the appeal works its way through the process, the grass and weeds have been mowed and ducks continue to use the low areas of the property during wet periods.

To put all this commercial development in perspective, please consider that 69 percent of the assessed valuation of property in Cornelius is residential. This compares with 63 percent in Forest Grove and 43 percent in Hillsboro.

Why does this matter? Residential property generally requires more city services per dollar of taxes than commercial property needs. The total valuation of commercial plus industrial classes of property in Cornelius is 18 percent. That compares 23 percent in Forest Grove and 38 percent in Hillsboro. (The source of this data is the report on assessed valuation for 2005-06 from the Washington County Department of Assessment and Taxation.)

One of the reasons to support commercial development in Cornelius is that it will help offset the imbalance between residential and non-residential property tax burdens.

David Waffle is city manager for the City of Cornelius.