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Residents will now vote before city re-designates park properties

Amendment to charter to be on the city's May 15

The West Linn City Council is attempting to close what a former mayor called a loophole in its city charter during its Feb. 13 meeting.

The council unanimously voted to add an amendment to charter chapter 11 to the May 15 ballot. Chapter 11 addresses the use and sale of city-owned property.

According to the charter, the city cannot sell, lease or exchange any park or open space property without getting voter approval. Each property up for disposal must be a separate ballot item.

The charter defines an open space as a green space, wetland, drainageway, wildlife habitat or stream corridor.

When the city acquires a property, it has 60 days to designate the property. The council then has 90 days to adopt that designation.

The intent of charter chapter 11 is to maintain open spaces for recreational use and environmental preservation and enhancement.

However, the loophole that former mayor David Dodds brought to the council's attention in August 2011 was that the city can re-designate property without voter consent. This means the city can take a piece of property currently labeled as open space, rename it, and then sell it without putting it to the public.

In a 2002 voter-approved charter amendment, the council designated all city-owned property as park, open space or city-owned. Each designation has set restrictions.

However, at the time of the designations, a few properties may have been mislabeled as open space or park. Since that time, the city and council have worked to re-designate the properties despite some opposition.

The proposed amendment to the charter will go on the city's May 15 election ballot for voter approval.

Dodds congratulated the council on the passing the resolution during the council meeting.

'You are now closing a loophole the citizens of West Linn didn't even know existed,' Dodds said. 'You are keeping faith with the intent of the chapter.'

City staff knows of one remaining property that was incorrectly designated in 2002 and has recommended the council re-designate it before the May election. The property, located at 4979 Summit St., was originally obtained for utility purposes, according to Assistant City Manager Chris Kerr.

The site is now a vacant lot.



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