Cedar Mill vs City of Beaverton, and so it begins

Carla Axtman

Last night in Cedar Mill, a representative from the City of Beaverton revealed tentative plans to rezone newly annexed property belonging to the Peterkort family. The plans are in conflict with previous agreements made with local residents. In front of a standing room only crowd at the Leedy Grange Hall, Steven Sparks, Principal Planner for the City of Beaverton, took questions from a skeptical crowd on the issue. For background, go here and here.

Residents of the area asked pointed questions of Sparks, mostly having to do with the size and scope of development allowed by the new zoning. Sparks referred to claims that the zoning would allow massive commercial development which could dwarf Washington Square as "fear-mongering". But late in the meeting, Sparks was forced to admit that the City's zoning would allow as much as 2.5 million square feet of commercial space to be built on the property, much larger than Washington Square.

Sparks also revealed that the main metric for the City in deciding whether to allow a development proposal to go through was chiefly based on the car traffic impact, even though the land sits around the Sunset Transit Center, making it ideal for development that would increase transit use. The previous agreement with residents called for a "station community", similar to Orenco Station in Hillsboro. This would include housing within easy walking distance of the MAX and bus line. The two plans appear to be in stark conflict.

Questions were also asked about the County and Metro's role. Sparks said that there is no opposition to the city's zoning plan from Metro. He also said that the city wanted more assistance from Washington County, but didn't get the level of help they were looking for. Further, Sparks said that the County wasn't opposed to the zoning proposals, which seems in conflict with this letter from Washington County planning manager Brent Curtis. Sources from Washington County tell me that this letter was significantly watered down as well. Curtis' original letter reportedly offered a much more concerned tone.

A number of local residents have filed to appeal the Beaverton Planning Commission's approval of the zoning. A hearing for the appeal is tentatively scheduled for February 7 at 6:30PM.

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    The whole presentation seemed like the typical bureaucratic glossing over of a goat rodeo. Sparks' claiming the nightmare scenarios would never happen because plans weren't submitted for final developments was a spectacular argument to pass things as presented. His caveat that we should beware of the evil Metro if/when they try to increase "fail rates" on surrounding roads was buck passing at its finest. Oh and the best part was Scott Eaton, who lurked at the back of the room and only introduced himself to me AFTER the meeting as "representing the Peterkorts," said "You don't know what you're talking about. You need to look at the plan." When I explained that I DID look at the plan on their website, he said "Oh. That plan's old." Brilliant!

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    We have very few opportunities to use the space around a transit center well. We mustn't blow this one.

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    Thank you for keeping on this Carla. Does Metro have any potential say in this? Is there a way for people who live outside of Washington County to have a voice in a choice that affects our entire region? To support the local people whose previous exercise of a democratic voice is being shunted aside for big money interests?

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    More on this in the January issue of the Cedar Mill News: http://cedarmillnews.com

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