Developer's latest attempt is smallest yet at 6.5 acres

Developer Kent Ziegler - for the third time - is angling for approval from the Oregon City Commission and Oregon City voters so some of his property can enter city limits.

After Ziegler's ballot measures in 2008 failed with a 175-acre total expansion, a proposed annexation of 54 acres lost by about a two-to-three margin on last year's May ballot. The latest proposal to annex parts of unincorporated Park Place into Oregon City involves approximately 6.5 acres, where Ziegler plans to build about 30 homes costing about $400,000 each.

Earlier this month, Oregon City's Planning Commission advanced the acreage toward this November's ballot.

Another area has been subject to annexation attempts three miles to the south, but is for largely business uses. City Commission last week unanimously passed Beavercreek Road plans with a special amendment for the Planning Commission to consider a cottage manufacturing area along with industrial lands.

Ziegler's residential property in question is south of Holcomb Boulevard and northeast of Livesay Road, abutting the Tracey Heights, Trailview and Wasko Acres subdivisions. The developer and some neighborhood supporters believe the proposal is small enough to win back voter support if public-safety concerns remain on the forefront.

Ziegler blamed a generally 'negative attitude' of voters for rejecting past proposals.

'We have an opportunity to give the people another chance to vote,' said Planning Commission Chair Paul Carter Stein, before that body voted 5-0 to refer to the issue to the City Commission for a public hearing and consideration at its Aug. 3 regular meeting.

Other residents from the immediate area testified against the annexation at the July meeting.

'The city continues to propose development without regard for money for necessary transportation, traffic, park, fire, police and city services,' said Christine Kosinski of the Oregon City Smart Growth Political Action Committee and a resident of nearby Holly Lane.

Rich Cohn-Lee, who lives just to the east of the proposed annexation, said he was glad the proposal would have to get voter support because he opposed the plan.

'Now we're here again, essentially a third bite at the apple,' Cohn-Lee said. 'This is really the first step of a larger annexation plan, essentially a toehold in the tip of the Park Place annexation plan.'

The developer argued that the homes would more than pay for themselves through development fees and by contributing to the tax base.

'Right now we have no real future plans; we're dealing with the economic environment we have today,' Ziegler said. 'We're not asking for any subsidies; we're going to save the city potentially up to a half-million dollars by putting a water line in a permanent location.'

The vacant property slopes to the southwest at an approximately 3-percent grade and is valued at $327,389. The total area within the Park Place Concept Plan is approximately 480 acres, of which 180 acres were brought into the Urban Growth Boundary in the 1980s, with the remaining entering the UGB in 2002.

Planning Commissioner Damon Mabee reluctantly voted in favor of the plan because of the $3,500 per-home police fee that was proposed.

'I'm not sure that I see the need for it,' Mabee said. 'It's always good to get more money into the coffers, especially for police, but for us to give the appearance of extorting money from a developer to me is unacceptable.'

Mabee hopes that Oregon City has proposed a flat rate for development fees that can be applied to other developers by the time the City Commission considers the annexation.

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