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DRC listened to LO citizens, got its Wizer decision right

The Development Review Commission got it right when it denied developer Patrick Kessi’s application on Wizer’s Block 137. The DRC followed the codes! They joined a growing list of opponents in voting “no” for the massive apartment complex. Architects Gregg Creighton and Kelly Melendez, along with DRC Chair Bob Needham, voted to deny Mr. Kessi’s application.

Where is our city going? That will be determined in September, when the fate of the Wizer redevelopment is voted on by the City Council. City staff, along with the developer, wants us to believe various neighborhoods, Save Our Village citizens, LONAC and The Lake Oswego Review got it wrong. City staff and the developer of this project seem to have one idea, but many of our citizens have another on how you interpret the codes.

The staff and developer knew going into this project that putting a massive apartment complex on a lot zoned for retail was a risk. They were also aware that nowhere in our codes does it allow five stories. What about honoring and preserving the decades of our well-thought-out plans and codes that are currently under threat? The staff aligned themselves with the developer, using variances and exceptions in order to make their oversized project “fit.”

There are numerous word changes the staff wants to make in the Urban Design Plan, directing us away from key phrases our codes have had for decades. They would like to do away with the words “village character.” They also want to exclude “Lake Oswego Style” and “compatible.” What is that all about? Who is in charge, the citizens or the staff?

If we are to believe the developer has listened to the citizens, then why has he had to hire three political consultants, one of whom advised current City Council members in their own political campaigns? Is this an attempt to influence City Council? It certainly is not being used to promote the project to citizens. The developer says he has met with the community and addressed their concerns. No, he has not!

Many people have asked from the beginning for smaller buildings in keeping with codes that call for “a community of small-scale structures that appears and operates like a traditional small town.” The Urban Design Plan which governs the code designates the Wizer Block as one of only four blocks that are to be our “compact shopping district.” This is our retail core, not residential.

We look to our government representatives to listen to their citizens — the residents and taxpayers of Lake Oswego who have spoken loud and clear. It is time to listen to the people who elected you, the people you represent. The people who we believe have it “right,” and the DRC who has it “right.”

Save Our Village will continue to speak out and work diligently to take steps to preserve the village qualities of Lake Oswego. Our city will grow, but we are firm in our resolution that Lake Oswego continue to grow as a unique, picturesque, “small-scale” community.

In November, we will have an election. Save Our Village will be speaking out pointedly about what happens between now and then, and we feel certain others will as well. Stay tuned!

Lita Grigg is a Lake Oswego resident and the founder of Save Our Village. For more information about the organization, go to www.saveourvillagelo.com.



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