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Council should uphold DRC's decision

I would like to thank very much the Development Review Commission for its denial of Patrick Kessi’s Wizer Block plan. I would also like to thank very much the editors of The Lake Oswego Review for their July 17 editorial stating that the Kessi plan should be denied due to its small amount of retail and excess of residential units. Yet, I am concerned that the Lake Oswego City Council, which will make the final decision about the Wizer Block in September, might overrule the DRC’s decision.

When the DRC first considered his plan, Kessi was asked to break up the buildings into small-scale structures, per code. Kessi’s inadequate response was to make cosmetic changes to the facade to give the appearance that the buildings were smaller in mass, rather than creating actual space between these block-long buildings.

The DRC based the final rejection of the Kessi plan on its small amount of retail in an area that is designated as part of Lake Oswego’s “downtown retail core,” and its high-density residential units on a block that is not designated for such use.

City staff may claim that Kessi’s Wizer plan follows city codes, but the Development Review Commission has decided it does not. The developer of Lake View Village and Oswego Townhomes had to follow city codes by reducing the scale and density of those projects. Yet current city staff somehow believes that Kessi is not required to follow city codes and design his buildings to be similar in height and mass to those buildings on the adjacent blocks. (I’d like to note also that Lake View Village, at 99,000 square feet, provides 365 parking spaces, while Kessi’s 290,000-square-foot Wizer development provides only slightly more.)

I am very concerned after reading in a Citizen’s View in the Aug. 14 issue of The Review that city staff wants to change Lake Oswego city codes and do away with definitions such as “Lake Oswego Style” and “village character,” which now require “small-scale structures that appear and operate like a traditional small town.” These code changes wanted by city staff would make possible massive developments such as Kessi’s Wizer plan.

Our City Council should not overrule the decision of the Development Review Commission. They should deny the Kessi plan in favor of a new plan that will fit Lake Oswego village character and our downtown retail core.

Mary Ann Dougherty is a Lake Oswego resident.




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