Six businesses and 750 families spread out over 4,000 acres of unincorporated land doesn't sound like metropolitan Portland, but it is.

Wedged between the cities of Tualatin, Lake Oswego and West Linn is the Stafford Hamlet, and some of its leaders visited with the West Linn City Council on July 16.

The main purpose of the visit was to improve communication and discuss common issues. There is a concern among some Stafford residents that a higher authority, such as Clackamas County or Metro, might affect the future of the Stafford area.

But hamlet leaders, who are trying to form a vision for the hamlet's future, are organized into a 10-member board and three standing committees.

Carol Yamada, board chairperson of the Stafford Hamlet, expressed the group's concern for the future.

'(Applying to become a hamlet) was in response to the UGB move always hanging over us,' she said, 'and (not knowing) which time it was going to happen.

'We wanted to have ourselves organized so that when it did happen, we would already have an idea of what we wanted to do.'

The word 'grassroots' is key in the processes that will determine the hamlet's future, Yamada said.

Scott Richmond, cochair of the Stafford Hamlet vision committee, admitted that there likely will be multiple visions of how the Stafford Hamlet would look in the future.

One vision is to leave it alone, he said, but there are others that involve development and growth.

'I know that Metro and other municipalities have their ideas (about development within the Stafford area),' Richmond said. 'Trying to find some way to make sense out of all that is one of the things we're trying to do within the hamlet. We'd like it to be grassroots. We'd like to see some good ideas come from members of the community and also from interested parties around us, including West Linn.'

To receive that advice from neighbors, the hamlet has an advisory committee that includes planners from several nearby municipalities, including West Linn Planning Director Bryan Brown.

Christine Roth, Clackamas County liaison to the Stafford Hamlet, said she is a support person.

'My role is primarily support,' she said, 'and providing backup for the hamlet, giving them support without direction.'

West Linn Councilor Jody Carson was concerned about how Measure 37 claims would be affecting the development of the hamlet and whether hamlet leaders have been able to gather diverse opinions in the visioning process.

The hamlet's board is comprised of a cross-section of local residents, Yamada said. She reminded the council that there was a good deal of dissention when the hamlet was forming, and that 20 percent of the hamlet's residents own 80 percent of the land.

But the board includes three members representing the large landholders, three representing the small landowners and four at-large. Measure 37 claims, she said, have come from both small and large landowners.

'We were hoping that having that kind of diversity on the board would allow people to be free to talk to someone and be a part of the visioning process,' Yamada said.

'While people may not agree with all of the results, at least they can agree on the process by which things happen, Richmond said.'

West Linn Councilor Michele Eberle acknowledged that reaching decisions through consensus often takes more time, and Yamada agreed. The timeline on the hamlet's Web site, Yamada said, is not realistic because when it was formulated they did not know that Metro would delay its next UGB assessment for two years.

'As we're going through this,' she said, 'we're finding out that everything is going to take more time than we originally budgeted.'

Carson offered assistance whenever the hamlet is in need, and encouraged keeping the lines of communication open.

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