On Feb. 23, the Jennings Lodge Community Planning Organization wants to bring together all interested community residents to prepare for the new March 17 public hearing on a developer’s re-application to cut down 326 trees on the 16.7-acre wooded Evangelical retreat center, to build a 62-lot housing development. FILE PHOTO - Jennings Lodge former evangelical campground's education building and Fiesen Chapel were slated for removal, along with most of the hundreds of old-growth trees on the site.This is the same number of trees to be cut down as the original application, but with 10 fewer housing lots. The Jennings Lodge CPO meeting will be at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Church of the Nazarene, 4180 S.E. Jennings Ave. Another item on the agenda will be an update on the Oak Lodge library services. The public is welcome, and invited to attend.

The public hearing on the latest application will be held Thursday, March 17, at 11 a.m. in the Clackamas County Development Services Building main floor Auditorium, 150 S.E. Beavercreek Road in Oregon City.

“The proposed destruction of so many large trees has been one of the biggest issues for the community with the developer’s applications. And for that matter, an issue for people all over Clackamas County and the Portland metro area. It’s really sad to see that, despite all the pleas to save more trees that people made at the first hearing, this re-application still proposes to cut down all of those 326 trees on the 15 interior acres,” said Karen Bjorklund, chair of the Jennings Lodge Community Planning Organization. “We see examples in Oregon where developers have embraced natural features, incorporated existing trees in their development plans, and created very special places to live with natural surroundings. That’s what we want for our community, too.”

In December, Clackamas County Hearings Officer Fred Wilson last Wednesday issued his decision denying the zone change for the evangelical property in Jennings Lodge. The decision denied all of developer Lennar Northwest’s related applications to build 72 homes on the 17-acre site.

In his decision, Wilson said that rezoning this property would have a very noticeable effect on the existing neighborhood, and that this type of transition to a different type of neighborhood is precisely what the county’s comprehensive plan is meant to protect against. 

“In my opinion, the need to protect such an existing intact R-10 neighborhood that has historically developed on large lots and has little vacant land outweighs the fact that the property could accommodate R-8.5 zoning and has a bus stop nearby,” Wilson said.

Wilson noted that the primary characteristic of existing low-density neighborhoods is their density, which a proposed zoning change would inevitably impact. Since current zoning would allow 62 homes on the property, Lennar argued that 10 additional lots on such a large property would not stand out. Opponents stated, “it is difficult to imagine a more intact, historically developed, large lot area than Jennings Lodge,” an observation that the hearings officer said he agreed with.

Lennar has also appealed the decision with the state's land-use board.

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