Wake up West Linn! The citizens of West Linn should be storming the gates of city hall right now to protest what Economic Development Director Chris Kerr is proposing in his “Cut the Red Tape” project.

Under the guise of promoting economic development, this program is proposing far-reaching changes to the city’s comprehensive plan and community development code that, in fact, reduce citizen involvement and have very little to do with responsible economic development planning.

One of the suggested changes calls for eliminating the council goals from the comprehensive plan. The first three of these goals are as follows:

1. Maintain and protect West Linn’s quality of life and livability.

2. Actively support and encourage West Linn’s neighborhood associations and promote citizen involvement in civic life. Establish and maintain policies that give neighborhoods real control over their future.

3. Maintain and strengthen trust and credibility in city government.

Mr. Kerr has suggested that these goals are outdated and unnecessary. I couldn’t disagree more, and I believe that this exemplifies the direction his program is promoting.

Should an economic development program:

n Reduce involvement in the land use process by neighborhood associations?

n Redefine conditional use in such a way that makes it easier for nonconforming uses to go forward in areas that aren’t zoned in such a way?

n Increase the building height restrictions to six stories?

n Lessen protection for trees and the tree canopy?

n Remove the goal in the comprehensive plan that opposes development of the Stafford triangle?

n Change subdivision applications and design reviews from being heard in public by the planning commission and instead being decided solely by the planning director?

This program is based on a survey that included 61 people and did not involve the input of West Linn neighborhood associations.

The planning commission in its meeting last week once again showed its strength in listening to the voice of the citizens and challenging concepts that reduce transparency and citizen involvement. They have slowed the process to more carefully evaluate the far-reaching consequences of this program, but they need to hear your voice. The city council needs to hear your voice.

It is up to the citizens to examine exactly what is being proposed in this program and give their input. If we don’t, we may find ourselves living in a city that we neither recognize nor want to live in.

Scott Gerber is a resident of West Linn.

Contract Publishing

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