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County board hears details of Stafford plan

Hamlet seeks to minimize development, maximize open space.

Clackamas County commissioners heard details Tuesday, May 3, of a community plan for Stafford, an unincorporated area awaiting a regional designation for future development.

Stafford — bounded by Tualatin, West Linn and Lake Oswego — has been the focus of a long-running controversy over its future.

The plan put forth by the Stafford hamlet board calls for focused commercial development — on the model of corporate office parks and restaurants, similar to Kruse Woods in Lake Oswego — of the 520-acre Borland area divided by Interstate 205.

But it also proposes residential minimum-lot sizes of 5 and 10 acres to allow just 159 homes on the other 3,370 acres.

Last December, the Metro Council reaffirmed a 2011 decision to designate 6,230 acres — including land to the west not covered by the hamlet plan — as an urban reserve open to development in the next 50 years.

“We are not rejecting smart urban planning; we are not anti-Metro,” said Dave Adams, board vice chairman of the Stafford hamlet, which the county created in 2006.

“But it is our rich history, our rural legacy, that are sacred to us.”

Board chairman Jay Minor said residents have sought to forge a compromise to satisfy not only them, but also Metro, the county, and the three cities, which have asserted that it will be too costly for them to extend city streets and utility lines into much of the hilly terrain in the area.

“This plan does not give everybody what everybody wants,” Minor said. “But I think it gives most of what everybody could hope for.”

The hamlet developed a planning vision and values statement in 2009, but until now, there was no detailed plan.

“I thought it was important for them to have their day to explain anything they want and also to answer questions from the commission,” Chairman John Ludlow said.

He and Commissioner Tootie Smith expressed support for the plan, but said it was only a starting point.

West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod, though his city opposed the urban reserve designation by Metro, said through a representative at Tuesday’s meeting that he would support the plan.

But in response to a question by Commissioner Martha Schrader, Stafford hamlet representatives said they doubted annexation to West Linn would be feasible.

A different plan by the Stafford Land Owners Association, which proposes more extensive development than the hamlet plan, is likely to be presented in the coming weeks.

Clackamas County has declined so far to join the Metro Council in reaffirming an urban-reserve designation for Stafford. A board majority decided last year that such a decision will await a county study of adding rural land elsewhere for potential business and industrial development, although the Metro Council has rebuffed any immediate expansion of the region’s urban growth boundary.

A 2014 decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals returned the urban-reserve designation of Stafford to the county and Metro for more detailed justification of transportation links.

Commissioners took no action Tuesday. Commissioner Jim Bernard was absent — he dissented from the board vote last year — and Commissioner Paul Savas excused himself midway through the presentation to attend another meeting in Portland.

“Ideally, we would all put ourselves in a room, lock the doors and don’t come out until we solve this issue,” Savas said.

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