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Arch bridge tops work session agenda

Preliminary discussion about redevelopment plans on tap


Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The City Council is expected to hold a public hearing on the proposed arch bridge master plan Dec. 15.With just one month remaining before the New Year, the West Linn City Council has plenty of items left on its docket.

Headlining a Dec. 1 special meeting is a preliminary discussion of the arch bridge-Bolton master planning project. With a hearing and final vote tentatively scheduled for the council’s final meeting of the year, on

Dec. 15, Monday’s work session will be a chance for the City Council, Planning Commission and city staff to discuss how the project is coming together.

“It will be a time to learn more about the details and have a discussion,” Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt said. “If planning commissioners have any questions, we’re urging them to submit them in advance to allow staff time to prepare.”

The city received a $220,000 grant from Metro last fall to fund the planning process, and later hired LMN Architects to complete a master plan and implementation strategy. The project runs congruent to the redevelopment of the former Blue Heron Paper Company across the river in Oregon City as part of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.

The city’s overall goal is to create a plan for the Bolton Town Center, which would be a hub for community activities, commerce and housing.

Back in October, city representatives and residents were given a first glance at LMN’s plan, which would focus on “modest” changes in the area north of Interstate 205 while radically re-imagining the land south of the freeway. LMN’s design includes the complete redevelopment of the area south of the highway to include condominiums; a parking garage; commercial and office space; retail shops; and a hotel.

The new development would be centered on a new “urban intersection” created by partially re-aligning Highway 43 and vacating the 76 gas station currently housed next to the old police station.

North of I-205, along Highway 43 in the Bolton area, the less intensive changes would include general improvements to Highway 43; the creation of a park in the area under the I-205 bridge; construction of apartment units at the former Bolton Fire Station; and “gentle infill” at sites that could house townhomes, cottages or accessory dwellings.

The plan has not seen any significant changes since it was presented in October, according to Community Development Director Chris Kerr.

“There have only been minor changes,” Kerr said. “They provide greater clarity in the plan — what it is and what it is not — in response to the inaccurate assertions that arose.”

Some in the community have said that when the city accepted the Metro grant it also agreed to increase housing density in the Bolton neighborhood.

In an Oct. 30 opinion piece in the Tidings, Councilor-elect Russ Axelrod, who was then a candidate, wrote that an intergovernmental agreement attached to the grant “commits the city to ‘Town Center,’ as envisioned in Metro 2040 Growth Concept, development across a substantial portion of the Bolton (north of I-205) and Willamette areas.”

However, Kerr wrote in a Nov. 20 opinion piece in the Tidings, “There are no zoning changes being made at this time and the city is not obligated to increase density at all.”

In a Nov. 23 email to Planning Manager John Boyd and his fellow planning commissioners, Axelrod, who serves on the commission, expressed ongoing concern with the direction of the project.

“There is significant discomfort amongst a majority of our community (me included) about the process and implications of the Arch Bridge grant agreement and with the current concept plan,” Axelrod wrote. “There are significant key issues/concerns that have not been addressed directly by the city, but have been either dismissed or diverted by commenting on other aspects of general planning work or regulatory structure.”

Though Axelrod and other city officials will have the opportunity to discuss those concerns Monday, the public will have to wait until the Dec. 15 hearing to testify.

School District Appeal

On Monday, the City Council will also hear the appeal of a recent Planning Commission ruling regarding lights at the Rosemont Ridge Middle School athletic fields.

In September, the Planning Commission denied the West Linn-Wilsonville School District’s proposal to allow the athletic field lights to stay on until 10 p.m., rather than 9 p.m.

Now, in its appeal, the school district claims that the Planning Commission “misapplied the applicable approval criteria.” In Monday’s public hearing, the City Council will have three options: to affirm the Planning Commission’s decision, reverse it or modify it.

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