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County referees Boring vs. Sandy bout

Boring has an issue with Sandy, which has a new issue with Clackamas County


Steve Bates, chairman of the Boring CPOScott Lazenby, Sandy city managerThe level of discord between elected officials of the city of Sandy and the community of Boring was never more apparent than after the recent decision that would negate Sandy’s green corridor agreement.

Meeting Feb. 7, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 to withdraw from the 1998 pact and to initiate the 60-day withdrawal process from the 2011 agreement.

Steve Bates, chairman of the Boring Community Planning Organization, said he has invited Sandy City Manager Scott Lazenby to come to CPO meetings on three occasions. Initially, he received a reply that said no, but since then, Bates said, Lazenby hasn’t answered his emails.

Details weren’t forthcoming from Lazenby, but he did admit he didn’t like what the emails said.

“It was the tenor of the stuff that was coming from them,” Lazenby said. “It was pretty accusatory and inflammatory. Life is too short to be dealing with that kind of thing.”

The CPO has issues with the county, not with the city of Sandy, Lazenby said.

“They don’t need to talk with us,” he said. “Their government is with the county, not us.”

Lazenby has said he doesn’t recognize the Boring CPO as a government that represents the people of Boring. He says the county commission is the only group elected to represent Boring residents.

“The Boring CPO is an invention of the county,” he said. “There are some individuals in the Boring CPO who have spread a lot of misinformation. CPOs were created to give feedback, as part of State Goal 1, on land-use planning issues. But that was prior to the days of email and website information. I question the necessity for (CPOs) anymore.”

But the current issue is what Bates describes as the undue influence of the city of Sandy over the property rights of Boring residents.

The green corridor agreement is a pact between Metro, Clackamas County and the city of Sandy that asks for private property owners adjacent to the south side of Highway 26 between Sandy and Gresham to provide a 50-foot-deep buffer of tall trees to hide development.

Lazenby says the agreement wouldn’t apply until a time in the distant future when several factors fall into place. He says the agreement wouldn’t affect current Boring landowners, but instead it would be for the corporations who buy the designated land for development.

Neither Boring nor Sandy seems willing to meet the other group halfway. Bates has issued the invitations to Sandy officials to attend CPO meetings and explain the purpose of the agreement.

Likewise, Lazenby said there always is a spot on the Sandy City Council agenda for comments by citizens, including residents of Boring.

“This is not an issue between us and an independent organization (Boring CPO),” Lazenby said. “This whole thing has been an intergovernmental agreement (Metro, Sandy and Clackamas County).”

“We communicated with (Lazenby),” Bates said. “And he elected not to recognize our communication.”

Neither group seems willing to budge from their position, but the action taken by county commissioners is likely to force something to occur besides killing the agreement.

Lazenby now has an issue with the county.

“It’s a matter of trust,” he said. “There are now two issues: One is the green corridor issue, and our apparent ability to trust the county in agreements is obviously going to affect our future actions. That’s the bigger issue.”

Lazenby says the county erred in its decision to withdraw from the agreement.

“If we’re expected to go meet with community planning organizations,” he said, “then by the same token before taking action the county should have met with residents of (Sandy) neighborhoods, because it affects us.”

Martha Schrader, Clackamas County commissionerCounty Commissioner Martha Schrader said her vote to withdraw from the agreement was not against the corridor.

Instead, she said, it was her chance to reconsider the topic — to consider how to write an agreement that Boring and Sandy would accept — and allow the parties to calm down.

“If the city is angry toward the CPO, the people they should be talking to is the commission — and that person can be me,” Schrader said.

The other two commissioners present at that meeting, Chairman John Ludlow and commissioner Tootie Smith, said the idea of property rights determined their choice. Oregon doesn’t allow the taking of property without payment, each said.

But Schrader isn’t in their camp. She doesn’t believe property rights should be an issue in this disagreement.

“It seemed to evolve into this property rights issue,” she said, “and I’m not so sure that’s correct. I’m not so sure it’s as bad as they think it is. But we have to do the ground work to convince them of that.”

Schrader said the idea of unincorporated areas and nearby cities not getting along is not unique to Sandy and Boring.

“We need to get off of this notion of who has standing and who doesn’t,” she said, “and just treat each other as good neighbors.”

The division between Boring and Sandy goes beyond the disagreement on the green corridor.

While Lazenby contends the CPO exists only as a component of the county, Bates said the CPO is autonomous — an independent organization.

“We do not operate based on what the county might tell us to do,” Bates said. “We operate based on our by-laws, and our bylaws say that we represent the county commission.”

Schrader said she’s convinced Sandy and Boring want a green corridor, and if that’s true, she wants to facilitate the way to gain accord between neighbors.

“We’re against the methodology of the other agreements,” Bates said. “But we’re not against the green corridor.”

“If everybody wants a green corridor, let’s figure out how to do it where Boring isn’t feeling as if they’re dealing with the takings,” Schrader said.

Schrader is certain that Boring residents don’t want Highway 26 to look like Highway 212 or McLoughlin Boulevard in Gladstone and Clackamas.

“My job is to tell everybody to take a deep breath and revisit the issue, so everybody can get what they want,” Schrader said.