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Council approves River Terrace plans

Dirt could begin to move in summer near Roy Rogers Road


Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Southwest Roy Rogers Road is largely undeveloped today, but the city of Tigard is planning for major development to start as early as next summer.The land around Southwest Roy Rogers Road and Scholls Ferry Road is largely undeveloped right now, but that won’t be the case for long.

The Tigard City Council approved a plan last week that could see the area developed into a major residential neighborhood during the next several years.

The council voted unanimously on Dec. 16 to move ahead with plans that lay the groundwork for how the area known as River Terrace will be built up, including how to protect natural resources and how to pay for new infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines.

The city expects 2,587 new homes to be built in River Terrace in the next few decades, bringing thousands of new residents to the city and expanding Tigard’s tax base.

The plans also call for a 40,000-square-foot center for retail and office space, as well as new parks and trails.

River Terrace, made up of three smaller sections, areas 63, 64 and 'Roy Rogers West,' was annexed into the city in 2011 and 2013. The potential influx of thousands of new families has caused the Tigard-Tualatin School District to make plans of its own. In 2011, Tigard-Tualatin schools purchased property on nearby Beef Bend Road, where it plans to build either an elementary or K-8 school named after longtime principal and school board member Art Rutkin.

The city of Beaverton has also been planning to develop an adjoining area north of Scholls Ferry Road, and the Beaverton School District is planning to build a new high school near Scholls Ferry Road and Roy Rogers.

Tigard City Council President Marland Henderson said that after more than a decade of work, bringing River Terrace to life has been a long time coming.

“My vote has always been that I want to see this happen,” he said. “It’s time to get this rocket off the ground.”

Payment plan

But developing the area won’t be cheap. City officials estimate Tigard will spend more than $111 million over the next several years to develop the site. About $34 million will have to be spent over the next six years to build the infrastructure.

To pay for those developments, the city is considering several factors, including a potential general obligation bond, an existing plan to raise sewer rates across the city and charging developers for constructing local utility connections.

“There are things about Tigard we love, and there are parts we wish had developed differently,” said Kenny Asher, Tigard’s planning director. “This is a chance for us to have a clean slate, in a sense, and put things in place that make a full neighborhood.”

Those plans have met with some opposition.

Before the city’s adoption last week, builders urged the city to delay the plan's adoption, saying the city’s funding model put too much of a burden on homebuilders.

“In order for River Terrace to succeed, the permitting and (city charges on developers) need to be competitive with other jurisdictions,” said Jon Kloor, government and political relations coordinator for the Home Builders Association of Metro Portland. “We all want the plan to be approved and move forward so River Terrace can be built, but we believe the funding scenario is not quite there, yet.”

Dan Grimberg, director of land development at West Hills Development Inc., said that will have an impact on home prices in the area.

“A house on River Terrace will be $15,000 more expensive than a home in North Bethany and $10,000 more than on South Cooper Mountain,” he said.

In 2013, the Tualatin Riverkeepers said the organization was worried that water runoff from the new homes could endanger local streams and cause problems with erosion, as it did when developers built homes on Bull Mountain.

The city has said those problems will be avoided because of more stringent rules on what developers can and cannot do.

Don’t expect shovels to start breaking ground just yet, though. The council still has to approve zoning plans, which it is expected to do in February.

The city anticipates applications for new homes in the area could start pouring in as early as February, with construction beginning in mid- to late-summer.

“What is in it for the city to annex and plan the area of River Terrace? It is about complete communities,” Asher told the City Council last week. “It’s about doing right by as many people in the community as we can. Both the people who live close to this area, the people who own property here and who will live here in the future.”

Outgoing City Councilor Gretchen Buehner recused herself from voting, citing a conflict of interest. Buehner is a land-use attorney with clients who live in the area.

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