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A new WalMart is unwise, unsafe

As our residential neighborhood consisting of the nexus of unincorporated Washington County — Aloha and the eastern fringes of Hillsboro — gears up to deal with the proposed multi-use retail and housing project of WalMart and Polygon Developers at the northeast corner of Baseline Road and Cornelius Pass Road, some questions arise from people living in greater Hillsboro and Beaverton who like shopping at the big W. These folks wonder why local citizens are opposed to such a project.

This commentary is an attempt to address this query.

Essentially, whether you like or love WalMart is really not the issue here. Rather it is the target location that leads us to oppose the project.

Specifically, and foremost, is the inevitable traffic impact on our community: Inadequate access and egress from the retail complex as well as our respective neighborhoods; lack of proposed signal lights and safe crosswalks for school children, pedestrians and people with disabilities; inadequate vehicular “storage” lanes for cars and trucks entering into the complex; associated parking lot potential overflow into some neighborhoods; day and night truck deliveries adding to congestion and unacceptably high noise levels. Along with the transportation issue, there is light pollution, air pollution, litter and trash, loss of numerous sequoia trees and the potential problem of insufficiently contained rain runoff.

Please note that the current designated speed for Cornelius Pass Road posted at the Quatama Road intersection is 45 mph. This is too high given the current housing and pedestrian/bicycling usage, and certainly much too high given the proposed Polygon housing complex and proposed WalMart retail complex.

A county engineer stated there would be no modifications to the speed limit. This appears to be bordering on egregious ignorance and potential reckless endangerment of the public traveling this arterial corridor by car, bicycle or foot. If this project gets approved, this speed posting must be decreased to a maximum of 35 mph. This speed limit should be decreased no matter the outcome of this specific project. Alleged compliance with existing transportation codes is nonsensical if the codes are antiquated and/or poorly matched to current housing and demographic factors and to human safety concerns.

With two nearby schools plus a very popular skateboard park, young people can wind up in jeopardy by attempts to cross busy roads without adequate crosswalks and/or signals. Additionally, crimes are associated with WalMart parking lots, especially muggings of shoppers conducting primarily cash transactions.

We who live here want a quality of life that is reasonably quiet, safe and without 24-hour retail business operations. This seems only reasonable to expect, and aligns with the Hillsboro 20/20 Vision Plan, which encourages and supports quality of life in the community.

At what point does the consuming public get to dictate quality of life issues for local residents? This is where professional regional planning needs to stand firmly in support of the ordinary citizen concerned about livability and some level of peacefulness.

WalMart’s proposed “Sequoia Village Neighborhood Marketplace” is simply not the right place for this major retailer.

The magnitude of the proposed apartment housing complex planned to adjoin WalMart is puzzling and even horrifying. With 250 residential units, there will be huge impacts on enrollment in local schools that are already at or near saturation.

The fact that the Hillsboro Planning Commission does not seem to represent those of us living in unincorporated Washington County and Aloha contributes to our angst, and we question why the city of Hillsboro thinks this might be a good place to deliver this unsavory, noxious development.

We hope the Hillsboro Planning Commission will allow sane discussion and oversight on this undesirable project.

Vincent P. Dimone, a licensed professional counselor providing vocational rehabilitation and employment services to veterans, is a long-term resident of unincorporated Washington County.




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