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Tigard City Council approved annexation, rezoning along 113th Avenue

Application OK'd Tuesday despite some neighbors' objections.

MAP COURTESY OF THE CITY OF TIGARD - A zoning map shows the area, in black, relative to the city of Tigard, shown in colors based on zoning (red for commercial, yellow for residential).The city of Tigard is set to grow by about 7.5 acres after the Tigard City Council lent its tentative approval Tuesday for the annexation of unincorporated residential land along Southwest 113th Avenue.

The council voted 4-1 in favor of bringing the land into the city, with Councilor Marland Henderson opposed. The council also voted unanimously to approve a rezoning request for the property by developer Mission Homes NW, from low- to medium-density residential.

Tuesday's approvals came despite efforts by some neighbors who organized in opposition to the proposal. They argued before the Tigard Planning Commission and City Council that increased development could negatively impact traffic, alter the character of the neighborhood south of Southwest Durham Road, and impact the adjacent creek and wildlife habitat.

Olivia Derridinger, a resident of 113th Avenue, said she is concerned about the idea of more housing development along the creek, which feeds into the Tualatin River.

“That's our concern, is that the plan doesn't address those issues and that … by allowing the zoning change, which I believe is the issue in the comprehensive plan, that you're setting yourself up to failure as far as being able to protect the creek and therefore protect the Tualatin River,” Derridinger told the council.

Derridinger and other neighbors said they did not oppose the annexation. But Gretchen Buehner, a former Tigard City Council president, said she feels full annexation is “a direct violation” of a previous agreement between Tigard and Washington County, because it creates a new “island” of unincorporated land surrounded by Tigard city limits.

Buehner suggested that the city could annex only part of the land Mission Homes seeks to bring into Tigard. That would leave the lots east of 113th Avenue in unincorporated Washington County, along with property to the north that Mission Homes' attorney Michael Robinson said was not included in the application.

Henderson, who served on the City Council with Buehner from 2009 to 2013, sided with Buehner.

“I think that we as council are trying to create policy, and I think this is in direct violation of that policy,” said Henderson, who is term-limited this year.

But Cheryl Caines, a Tigard city planner who recommended council approval of the annexation and rezoning, said that while city policy does discourage the creation of unincorporated islands, it is not prohibited.

Mayor John L. Cook and other councilors agreed, saying a new island is not ideal but could be addressed at a later date.

Tuesday's hearing focused on the proposed annexation and rezoning, rather than the nature of the development being considered for the land, which will be subject to additional approval processes.

Even still, Kurt Dalbey, Mission Homes' land manager, disputed the notion that his company is seeking to pack in higher-density housing — as was alleged by Todd Ouzts in a commentary submitted to and published in The Times last month; it claimed Mission Homes intends to build “three-story skinny homes” and warned of “overpopulation” in the area.

“We're local builders that build single-family detached housing,” Dalbey told councilors. “That is exactly what we would anticipate doing on this site.”

Robinson noted that the staff report recommending city approval found that the development would not significantly increase traffic.

“In fact, the traffic generation is so small, it didn't even trip the requirement for a traffic impact analysis under your code. That's how small it is,” Robinson said.

Council President Jason Snider offered the motions to approve the annexation and rezoning.

“This is a situation I think we find ourselves in frequently these days, where fundamentally, neighborhoods and other areas that don't want certain things to happen don't understand state law at all. I think we're in one of those situations again tonight,” he said. “There is just, I don't think, any way to look at this application and conclude that it doesn't comply with the approval criteria.”

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor
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