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Washington County board considers land transfer to mental health provider, which proposes independent housing for six people near Beaverton.

Land transfers are usually routine, but Washington County's proposed transfer of surplus land to a nonprofit mental health provider is expected to generate a crowd.

The transfer is on the agenda of county commissioners, whose regular meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (July 25) in the Shirley Huffman Auditorium of Hillsboro Civic Center, 150 E. Main St. (Business meetings are in the evening on the fourth Tuesday.)

Under board meeting rules, the commissioners can set time limits on oral testimony, for which people must sign up before the meeting.

Written testimony will be accepted at the board office at 254 N. First Ave., MS 21, Hillsboro OR 97124. Email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The filing deadline for testimony is 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The proposed transfer at 17025 SW Bany Rd. outside Beaverton — the 1.29-acre site is left over from county work on SW 170th Avenue — is to Luke-Dorf Inc. of Tigard.

The Clover Court project consists of three duplexes, each with two studio apartments, which will house a total of six people who will live independently. Each apartment will be 400 square feet.

The site is a block from Cooper Mountain Elementary School.

Neighbors, organized as Stop Clover Court, have maintained a steady drumbeat of opposition at commissioner meetings. A number of them showed up May 24, when the issue was not on the agenda.

Opponents also booed a county official during a Feb. 21 community meeting to present the project.

They have raised the specter of what happened with Connell House, which began in 2007 in Cornelius as a secure residential treatment facility for people released from Oregon State Hospital.

A yearlong controversy ensued with allegations of drug use and sex, followed by the city's revocation of a conditional-use permit for Luke-Dorf and a shutdown by the state. Then a compromise in 2009 allowed a group home for up to 12 people who require less supervision than the former secure facility.

Housing need

The county and Luke-Dorf say Clover Court is intended for a much different purpose and a different set of people — and is not a group home or a secure facility.

Applicants will be screened by an external company — not Luke-Dorf — to bar people with felony convictions, sex offenders, users of illegal drugs, and anyone with a pattern of arrests or problematic behavior.

Prospective residents also would undergo background checks for credit, rental and criminal history.

Washington County, according to one estimate, is 14,000 units short of housing for all types of low-income people — and has been working on ways to resolve homelessness or avert it.

According to a county policy statement, "This 'housing first' strategy is helping formerly homeless people bring stability and dignity to their lives so that they can recover from the trauma of homelessness, find work and become self-sufficient."

The county has had a long-standing policy of transferring small parcels to the Housing Authority or nonprofit groups willing to build housing below market rates.

The agenda item for Clover Court awaited completion of an environmental assessment by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is paying for construction.

HUD determined in May that a full environmental impact statement is unnecessary under federal law.

The action clears the way for release of $413,058 HUD approved more than a year ago, plus about $200,000 HUD granted to the county for low-income housing under the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

Even if the commissioners approve a transfer, Luke-Dorf would have to file an application to build the project. Once its application is deemed complete — and a neighborhood meeting is part of the pre-application process — Oregon law sets a 120-day limit for consideration.

However, the commissioners would not be involved in this process, which is known as a Type III review.

The county would issue public notices, a separate hearings officer would conduct a public hearing and issue a written decision. That decision could be appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals, which can uphold it or return it to the county for further findings.

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