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Green corridor disagreement comes to a vote

After Thursdays public testimony on an agreement, the county commission could withdraw


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Part of this home and the narrow roadway, adjacent to Highway 26, are both inside the 50-foot buffer that would require trees under provisions of the agreement between the city of Sandy, Metro and Clackamas County.  POST PHOTO: JIM HART Boring resident Norm Rice lives in a home that is about 30 feet from the fence at the edge of Highway 26 right-of-way.

The only thing between his home and the Highway 26 fence is an easement he granted for a road leading to a large business and two other residences.

Rice is a little uneasy because the proposed buffer zone along the south edge of the highway would cut off a big corner of his home as well as the road to the other homes and business. He is uneasy about what an intergovernmental agreement — between the city of Sandy and Metro and Clackamas County — might do to his and others’ quality of life in the future.

“Where you are standing (in Rice’s living room) is inside the buffer zone that is supposed to be full of trees,” he told a Post reporter who visited his home this week. “It also takes a corner of the bedroom.”

The agreement has the purpose of shielding highway passers-by from the view of development along the highway.

Clackamas County’s board of commissioners will take up the issue Thursday, Feb. 7, because Boring CPO members have asked the county to withdraw from the agreement, thus nullifying its effect.

Sandy City Manager Scott Lazenby says the idea of the agreement is to keep a visual separation between the metropolitan area and other more rural cities such as Sandy.

But Rice and a number of other property owners and members of the Boring Community Planning Organization aren’t convinced.

CPO Chairman Steve Bates has read the agreement, and he says the buffer area applies to all land adjoining Highway 26 on the south side between Gresham and Sandy — not just the area designated as urban reserve.

Bates is following the literal definition of “Highway 26 Corridor” as stated in the agreement.

“Our contention is that the provisions of the agreement can be applied to any property fronting Highway 26 between Gresham and Sandy,” he said, “as that is the definition of the Highway 26 Corridor.”

Clackamas County Commission Chairman John Ludlow also has looked into this situation and voiced his concern.

“A private property ‘taking’ occurred in that action (signing the agreement),” Ludlow said after being elected, but before being sworn into office.

“The affected parties did not receive due notice. As a licensed real estate broker, I am a property rights advocate. That will not change when I take office.”

Ludlow will be chairman of the discussion and vote that is scheduled to occur Thursday, Feb. 7, at the county offices in Oregon City.

Lazenby says there’s a lot of what he calls “misinformation” circulating around the nearby communities.

In the case of Norm Rice, whose home and roadway are in the proposed buffer zone, Lazenby says the agreement wouldn’t apply unless he sold out to an industrial or manufacturing business.

The agreement also wouldn’t apply to farmland or nursery operations, which also are present along Highway 26.

“This agreement would apply to farmland or nurseries only if they stopped farming and built warehouses and factories,” he said. “Frankly, we would prefer that they farm forever. We have no issue with leaving the land rural.”

Lazenby is referring to the idea of screening only industrial, manufacturing or urban-style residential developments.

“There’s certainly no requirement to put trees where there are homes or farmland,” he said. “That was never the intention, and to me it’s just baffling that people, who ought to know better, characterize it that way.”

Lazenby says there is no indication that the provisions of this agreement are imminent. In fact, he says there are a number of roadblocks in its path.

The visual buffer of trees would not apply until the following five situations are resolved:

n Metro expands the urban growth boundary into Boring;

n Land on the south side of Highway 26 annexes to a city or incorporates as a city;

n A comprehensive plan is adopted;

n The land is planned for industrial or office or urban-style residential development; and,

n The fate of Metro’s urban/rural reserves is decided in an appeals court.

But Bates and other Boring area residents don’t want to test their luck on what might happen in the future. Bates said annexation could happen from any one of several cities, and with an annexation comes three or four of the requirements.

Besides that, he says there are no words in the agreement about any of the five items Lazenby stated.

“The agreement does not reference any of those items,” Bates said. “If what (Lazenby) said was true, we probably wouldn’t be contesting this. The wording of the document is what we have to go by, not the interpretation or the intent stated by the city of Sandy or Clackamas County.”

To join the debate or listen, attend Thursday’s commission meeting or tune into the live streaming of the meeting from a link on the Clackamas County website: clackamas.us/bcc/

For more information, call 503-655-8581 or send email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..