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Stonehenge to be site of 2013 Street of Dreams

by: VERN UYETAKE - Construction crews work to prepare 12 acres off Rosemont Road in the Stafford Area for next year's NW Natural Street of Dreams. A roughly 55-acre site hugging the city boundary of West Linn will be home to next year’s NW Natural Street of Dreams.

Stonehenge, a 12-acre, 12-lot subdivision on the edge of West Linn in the unincorporated Stafford area, is being promoted for its “sunset views over the hills of Lake Oswego.”

The subdivision sits across Rosemont Road from Oswego Hills Winery. A new street called Stonehenge Terrace will lead to the development from Whitten Lane. Seven or eight of the homes built there will likely be featured in next year’s luxury home tour, set to begin near the beginning of August 2013.

Nancy Haskin, vice president of membership, events and education for the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, which puts on the event, said the site stood out during the selection process, beating another top contender in Happy Valley, because of its location and large lots.

Twelve one-acre lots are planned for the Stonehenge development west of West Linn and south of Lake Oswego.“It’s very hard to find acre lots that are close in in this area,” she said. For comparison, the homes featured in this year’s Street of Dreams in West Linn sit on 10,000-square-foot lots — less than a quarter-acre each. “We’re very excited about having houses that can have a little room to run around.”

The ample space also means event parking can be offered on-site so Street of Dreams coordinators won’t have to provide shuttles to and from the show.

The property is owned by Charles Hoff, who spent years fighting for the right to develop the land. Eventually, he won that right through Oregon’s Measure 37, a law requiring government agencies to allow landowners to develop under the rules in place when they bought their property or to pay them for value lost as a result of newer zoning restrictions.

So, although Hoff’s project wouldn’t typically be allowed — Clackamas County’s exclusive farm use zone has a minimum lot size of 80 acres — the county signed off on the project earlier this year.

The Stonehenge estates will take up just a portion of the roughly 55 acres Hoff owns in the area, where the prospect of dense residential or commercial development has seen more than a decade of debate. Although the regional government has designated the Stafford and Borland area between Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn for eventual urban-scale development, the cities of Tualatin and West Linn have hired attorneys to fight it.

But as far as Ken Olson of Trillium Development is concerned, the Stonehenge site is ripe for development, as it sits between cities, flanks a freeway and is on the edge of West Linn’s city limits.

“It should have been developed a long time ago,” said Olson, who is marketing the Stonehenge lots.

The location, which faces southwest, will offer sunset views, he said. And because the area remains rural in nature, Stonehenge will be able to offer wide, level grounds to build on.

“A lot of people want to spread out,” Olson said. “It’s more of a lifestyle for people who don’t necessarily want to have an upstairs. ... If you want a big house, you can do that, too; with 3,500 to 4,000 square feet, you can do a single level.”

That means residents can “have room for your RV garage ... and still have a classy, $1.2 million type of home,” he added.

While only 12 acres of the site will be built on now, the subdivision could grow if developers obtain public water and sewer services. The initial development will rely on wells for water and septic systems.

Herb Koss, another developer involved in the project, said eventual zoning changes could allow the lots to break into additional parcels. For now, those prospective new building sites will offer landowners prime space for gardening, he said.

“A person can live close to town and still have their own flowers and vegetables on their own property,” Koss said. “These lots will be tailored for people who want a lot of yard around them.”

But because it’s outside of the urban growth boundary, the subdivision can only tap water sources also outside of the UGB, Koss said. He believes Lake Oswego could provide water because it already pipes some outside of the boundary. A water line would only have to be extended by about 4,000 feet, by his estimates.

At the same time, from an environmental perspective, Koss said, “We would prefer not to drill wells.”

“We have to drill wells fairly deep to get water,” — likely about 400 feet deep, he said. “If you’re surrounded by public water and if this area at some point will be urbanized, it makes sense not to drill the wells and to use public water. It’s a common sense approach.”

So far, Lake Oswego and West Linn have denied requests for water services to the site.

Denny Egner, Lake Oswego’s long-range planning director, said the city’s comprehensive plan outlines policies “that would discourage the provision of urban services outside of our urban services boundary.”

Although the city is now updating its comprehensive plan, he said officials have been hesitant to change the long-held position opposing Stafford’s urbanization. Lake Oswego instead aims to limit sprawl, supporting future population and job growth within the existing boundary through redevelopment and a “compact urban form.”

Lake Oswego has maintained policies that oppose urbanization in Stafford since 1997. It reiterated this position in a 2009 letter to Metro citing concerns about dense development detracting from livability by increasing traffic congestion and impeding access to small community farms and sustainable agriculture.

The only development the city would eventually support, officials wrote in the letter, must be “focused as a walkable, transit-oriented, mixed-use town center located near the I-205/Stafford interchange.”

Planning commissioners and city councilors talked about the city’s stance in July and seemed to agree that Stafford should retain its “rural character,” at least over the next 20 years or so.

“I don’t see how that discussion matches very well with providing urban water,” Egner said.

But in a letter sent to the Lake Oswego City Council in the spring, property owner Hoff contended the city should provide water to his project because he would pay for the new pipes, and because the city’s latest calculations of system development charges, or SDCs — fees paid by developers to offset their projects’ impacts on public parks, roads and utilities — included anticipated growth in Stafford.

Lake Oswego City Manager David Donaldson confirmed that developers have called multiple times to press for water services; so far, the city’s response has been to explain “why we’re not going to do that.”

He said the city considered eventual growth in Stafford when calculating SDCs because the city’s long-term water facilities plan, which includes a bigger water treatment plant, looks far into the future.

“It only makes sense you’d build a treatment plant that, 20 or 30 years from now, would have that capacity,” he said. “We’re not building this plant to serve that area now.”

Donaldson added that any pipes running outside of the urban services boundary — such as in the Luscher Farm area, he noted — were in place long before the city enacted policies opposing urbanization of Stafford.

Lake Oswego officials also questioned Hoff’s request based on Stonehenge’s location. If a city annexed the site to provide water service, Donaldson said, “It makes more sense they would be in the adjacent city — not ours.”

While the city of West Linn has had no “formal contacts” related to the development, Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt said a flier advertising the subdivision did arrive at city hall a few weeks ago.

In addition, she said City Manager Chris Jordan has been asked informally over the years whether West Linn would provide the site with water, “and the answer has always been an emphatic ‘no.’”




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