The council is set to vote on the local improvement district Feb. 26 after staff makes some changes
by: Jonathan House, TIME FOR A CHANGE — A car drives along a rural section of 69th Avenue in the Tigard Triangle, which the City Council has included in plans for a local improvement district to improve streets in anticipation of future development that will bring more traffic.

TIGARD - For more than two decades, city officials have been planning to transform the Tigard Triangle from a hodge-podge of commercial development on improved streets mixed with older homes, bare lots and run-down roads into a showcase for Tigard.

The City Council came close Tuesday evening to starting the process to upgrade a number of streets by forming a local improvement district but decided to hold off for another month after some Triangle property owners asked for changes.

Specht Development Inc., which has been working on the project for two years, submitted a petition to the city to form a LID to improve sections of 69th Avenue, Clinton Street, Dartmouth Street, Baylor Street and 68th Parkway, all within the Tigard Triangle, which is bordered by Interstate 5, Highway 217 and Pacific Highway.

In addition, the project would include curbs, gutters, sidewalks, streetlights, street trees, storm drainage infrastructure and under-grounding of overhead utilities, with the total cost estimated to be about $2.4 million.

With the plan in place, the next step was to hold a public hearing before the council voted on the issue, but on Tuesday several people raised issues about the LID's financial impact on them.

Tim Roth, whose property is on 72nd Avenue, said that he received a letter from the city in July 2006 about the project and then didn't hear anything more until this month.

'I come asking questions,' he said.

Roth, who said he owns property fronting major and minor arterials, wondered why a median was incorporated into the LID. 'My median is also shared by other properties,' he said.

John Coon and Mary Olsen, with property at 69th and Baylor, objected to paying for a half-street improvement.

Coon added that their portion of the LID would cost them $185,000, which was equal to the value of their property.

'It's not feasible,' Coon said. 'It puts a terrible strain on our ability to maintain that area. To go down Baylor one block for a half-street improvement puts the burden on us.'

He added that like Roth, 'we received no notice of a prior meeting.'

Olsen read a letter to the council, noting, 'We oppose the current plan. It's unsafe, unfair and unreasonable… The street should be widened all the way to 72nd with everyone along the street contributing to the cost.'

Marzie Slane objected to her 'unfair' assessment of $70,000, saying she couldn't afford it.

John Kearney, who represented Dartmouth Townhomes, said he was neither for nor against the LID, but when he bought property on Dartmouth between 69th and 70th, he had to dedicate 11 feet along the street to the city.

He said that his assessment of $125,000 was untenable. 'It will impact our bottom line,' Kearney said. 'We bought property that was fully developed (and now you want to re-do it).'

City Engineer Gus Duenas told the council that the staff recommendation was to approve the LID; however, Councilor Gretchen Buehner said, 'I'm very concerned about the lack of public outreach.'

Councilor Sydney Sherwood added, 'Especially when you're talking about $100,000 on these properties.'

Buehner continued, 'I don't see the need to do a half-street improvement on Baylor… Do it when the properties to the north are ready to be developed.'

Greg Specht told the council, 'We don't have a hard-and-fast position on Baylor... the city doesn't get much bang for that buck.'

Duenas explained that property owners assessed for the LID could either pay up front or over a 10-year period, and he admitted, 'In hindsight, we should have had another neighborhood meeting to make sure everyone was aware of the (LID) boundary changes.'

The council suggested that the Baylor half-street improvements be removed from the LID and that the LID costs be recalculated.

Mayor Craig Dirksen, who noted that the Tigard Triangle had been zoned for redevelopment for 25 years, added that the city should look for ways to help property owners on a case-by-case basis.

Buehner made a motion to continue the public hearing while staff revised the LID to take the Baylor half-street improvements out of the project, looked into financing options for property owners and adjusted the methodology for fee assessments.

The council voted 4 to 0 to set Tuesday, Feb. 26, as the date to continue the hearing, and Duenas said, 'This will give us time to have a neighborhood meeting.'

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