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Jennings Lodge neighbors prepare for hearing on proposed 72-lot subdivision

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On July 28, the Jennings Lodge Community Planning Organization (CPO) wants to bring together all interested community residents to prepare responses for the August public hearing on the proposal to clear the 16.7-acre wooded Evangelical retreat center near the corner of Southeast River Road and Jennings Avenue for a 72-lot housing development.

PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN SUBMITTED TO CLACKAMAS COUNTY - The proposed 72-lot subdivision would clear more than 300 trees and raze all the buildings on the evangelical property.The application proposes clear-cutting more than 300 trees on the interior 15 acres, and demolishing all buildings on the historic site. The application also includes a request to change the zoning from R-10 to R-8.5 in order to build more houses than is allowed with the current R-10 zoning. The Jennings Lodge CPO meeting will be at 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 28, at the Gladstone Church of the Nazarene, 4180 S.E. Jennings Ave. The public is welcome, and invited to attend.

The Evangelical nature retreat center is at the heart of Jennings Lodge, and those 326 trees have played a vital role in our community for more than a 100 years. To lose them would be devastating. The developer said they will plant new trees, but most of the current trees are groves of very large Douglas firs, up to 61 inches in diameter. So it would probably take more than a 100 years before newly planted trees would replace the trees there right now and what they give us — their important environmental functions and their majestic beauty that’s so much a part of our neighborhood character.

Jennings Lodge is mostly a community with large individual lots, rather than subdivisions. So the very nature of subdivisions tends to be contrary to the neighborhood character of our area. Besides that, this would be the biggest subdivision ever created in Jennings Lodge. It would have lasting, and possibly negative, impacts on the entire community.

The number of people concerned about this proposal keeps growing, as more people continue to find out about the project. We even have people contacting us who used to live in Jennings Lodge, and want to offer their help, shocked at the possibility of such a large subdivision, and horrified at the proposed cutting of so many trees.

An earlier concept drawing for the development showed a 2.66-acre park in the southeast corner of the property, which is not in the current application. We were told Clackamas County would not be able to buy the park land from the developer, so the developer dropped the concept of including a park.

It is a sad thing, because a nature park on the southwest corner, or along the west ridge, would preserve many of the groves of trees that will be lost if the current application is approved. Also sad is the fact that the community had been working to find partners to buy the property for shared use as a park along with other public or community uses, since Jennings Lodge currently has no parks. We understand the developer’s offer to buy the property came in just a few days after we had been touring the site with people from the Portland Audubon Society, who were looking for a wildlife care center site. The Audubon folks were excited about all the trees, the idea of repurposing the current buildings rather than tearing them down, and sharing the site with a park.

The Jennings Lodge CPO invites anyone with an interest to attend the July 28 meeting to learn what they can do to make their concerns heard at the public hearing on the application. The public hearing on the application will be held at the Clackamas County offices in Oregon City at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 20. For more information, contact the Jennings Lodge CPO at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The property owner of the site at 18121 S.E. River Road is the Pacific Conference of the Evangelical Church. The applicant is Lennar Northwest of Vancouver, whose Florida-based parent company is one of the top five largest home builders in the U.S. According to application documents, Lennar Northwest is listed as a contract buyer of the property.

Karen Bjorklund is chair of the Jennings Lodge Community Planning Organization.