Developer pauses on Centennial school boundary redraw
A home developer pushing to move 305 acres in Happy Valley from the Centennial School District into the North Clackamas School District has withdrawn the controversial petition for the boundary change, at least for now.
In a brief letter to Clackamas County Counsel dated Tuesday, March 20, developer Holt Homes said, "In order to accommodate a productive conversation with Centennial School District about the boundary change, I would like to formally withdraw the petition."
Centennial forcefully opposed the annexation, with Shar Giard, chairwoman of the Centennial School Board, calling it "outrageous" and "the request of a greed driven builder/developer."
After the petition was withdrawn, Giard said "this delay does not change in any way how we feel about the boundary change request" and vowed to take the issue all the way to a special election of the voters if necessary.
"There is no compromising on this boundary," Giard said Wednesday, March 21.
Vancouver's Holt Homes had petitioned Clackamas County to redraw school the district boundaries. Holt is building 66 new homes on 30 acres on Happy Valley's Scouter's Mountain in a development called Pioneer Highlands.
Holt partner Rian Tuttle did not return phone calls to discuss the boundary change after the petition was withdrawn.
The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, the relevant boundary authority of Clackamas County, would have been required to approve the petition, according to a little-used and somewhat unclear statute.
The petition would then go to Multnomah County, which would also have had to approve the boundary change.
Holt's Tuttle said earlier that changing the boundaries makes sense for the homes "from a transportation and community" standpoint.
Holt was required to gather 500 valid signatures from people in the Centennial district that live within Clackamas County to support filing the petition.
Clackamas County Counsel Stephen Madkour said Wednesday that the signatures would likely remain valid if Holt decides to refile the petition in the near future.
If the petition were to be refiled, the county Board of Commissioners could decline to take action, which would likely bump the issue to the state Board of Education, several sources said.
Only about half-dozen homes in Pioneer Highlands are substantially completed. But Holt is touting the homes on its website and implies that children living in the high-end houses will go to North Clackamas schools.
Holt's web page describes Pioneer Highlands as "located atop Scouter's Mountain, a hill with regional views in Happy Valley (which) enjoys low crime rates, beautiful scenery, and schools that feed into nearby Clackamas High School."
West Hills Homes, which is building the houses for Holt, shows on its website the Pioneer Highlands homes to be in the $800,000-$900,000 price range with about 3,500 square feet and four or five bedrooms.