Feb. 12 City Council hearing cancelled; developer's next steps will determine timetable moving forward

A Feb. 12 West Linn City Council hearing regarding a proposed "development agreement" for an 11-acre property on Tannler Drive was canceled, as Tannler Properties LLC withdrew its application.

City Manager Eileen Stein announced the developer's decision to the City Council in her weekly memo issued Feb. 8.

The withdrawal of that application leaves just one proposal on the table for the site: a separate application for a mixed-use development with 216 housing units and 30,500 square feet of commercial space on the bottom floor. Tannler Properties introduced that idea at a pre-application meeting Feb. 1, leaving City officials confused as to its intentions with the development agreement still on the table at that time.

The withdrawal of the development agreement clears up that confusion, but the timeline moving forward remains to be determined.

"(Tannler Properties) has to finalize their application and meet with the neighborhood association to develop a complete application and submit it to the City," West Linn Planning Manager John Boyd said. "So it's in their ballpark, and once we have an application submitted we'll understand the timeline better."

Near the end of the Feb. 12 City Council meeting, which proceeded as scheduled after the Tannler discussion was removed from the agenda, Mayor Russ Axelrod took a moment to read a statement expressing his feelings about how the process had been handled.

Axelrod said developer Jeff Parker of Tannler Properties approached him in 2016, shortly after his first application to develop at the site was denied on appeal to the City Council.

"He wanted to know what needed to be done to develop his property," Axelrod said. "I suggested he needed a broader vision — a development plan that served the city and the Blankenship area. I emphasized he needed to sit down with the community and address their concerns and interests, and he needed to follow the code — specifically the OBC (office business center) zoning for his property."

Axelrod said he met with Parker again several months later, when Parker and an architect showed him some preliminary design concepts. At that point, Axelrod offered a connection to a hotelier who might work with Parker at the property.

"I did not discuss any development plans with Mr. Parker after that point," Axelrod said.

In the summer of 2017, Axelrod said the council gave Stein the OK to sign a letter of intent with Parker to "explore the options of a development agreement," with the caveat that the City would not be committed to approve anything going forward.

When a proposed development agreement emerged in the fall of 2017, Axelrod and the council felt they had been misled.

"It was apparent to me after the filing that Mr. Parker's development application looked nothing like the possible vision that had been discussed previously," Axelrod said. "Shortly after this I learned that Parker ignored inquiries from the hotelier."

Axelrod concluded by apologizing to the community for how the process was handled.

"There are times when a development agreement could work for a city and community, as for example in cases of certain urban renewal processes," Axelrod said.

"But it requires trust and integrity of all parties involved and unfortunately that was an incomplete equation on this matter."

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