Neighbors ask Tigard to put the brakes on plans to extend road

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Don and Mary Feller are leading a charge to stop a planned extension of their street for new development. Neighbors have hired an attorney and plan to fight the city if the plans go through. Mary and Don Feller moved to their home on View Terrace nearly 40 years ago and have never regretted it.

It’s the type of neighborhood they always dreamed of. Neighbors meet regularly for community picnics and get-togethers, children ride their bicycles up and down the street, and the remains of a treehouse stand in the limbs of a tree at the road’s dead-end.

It’s the kind of neighborhood you want to raise your kids on. And they did.

“Nobody leaves this neighborhood unless they die,” said Don Feller, walking in the middle of the deserted street. “Really. It’s true.”

But neighbors worry their idyllic neighborhood could be ruined after the city of Tigard announced it would require a developer to extend View Terrace to nearby 97th Avenue, after he announced plans to add a handful of new homes to property that abuts the street.

Turning the dead-end street into a through-street may seem like a small change, but neighbors say it will change the very fabric of their community.

“This is probably the most serious thing we’ve faced in 37 years up here,” said Don Feller. “We aren’t going to have parties in our little cul-de-sac, kids won’t run around anymore. It will separate people on one side of the street from the other.”

Since learning about the expansion in July, neighbors have launched a public relations campaign against the city, writing letters to local media and posting signs across their neighborhood on Little Bull Mountain. Their Facebook page, “Save Our Tigard Neighborhoods” shows photos of community celebrations on the street, and details how the neighborhood would be destroyed by the expansion.

But city planners say there is little they can do. Rules are rules.

“There are lots of street standards that tell us exactly when, where and under what conditions to connect streets,” said Kenny Asher, the city’s community development director. “We have policies in place to move toward a circulation system that has more connections.”

Under city code, dead-end streets like View Terrace are to be extended through when development occurs.

“City employees have the code, but they shouldn’t be doing this across the board,” Don Feller said. “Look at other issues. One idea of connectivity is to create neighborliness. We already have that here, and it will be destroyed if this street goes through. It will tear our neighborhood apart.”

Not a bunch of curmudgeons

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - City officials say the extension is necessary under city code if the land is developed. Neighbors are fine with the new homes, but say they dont want their dead-end street to change.The Fellers are wellknown for their community service. Both are retired teachers from the Tigard-Tualatin School District and for years were prominent members of the Tigard Historical Association.

In 2012, Mary Feller received the city’s “Exemplary Citizen” award, Tigard’s highest honor.

“This makes us very uncomfortable,” Don Feller said. “We don’t like being in an adversarial role with a city that we have supported for all these years.”

View Terrace has no shoulder or sidewalks. By extending the road, neighbors worry that speeding cars will become a safety concern, especially for children.

“We don’t want to come across as a bunch of curmudgeons,” Mary Feller said. “We want to show people that there is a reason not to open the street. That’s why we’ve gone to all this work.”

View Terrace is far from perfect, however. The street is blocks from Twality Middle School and Templeton Elementary, but there are no paths to get there. When the Fellers’ daughter was growing up, she would routinely cross a neighbor’s property to get to school.

“One of the big complaints we hear at the city a lot is that idea that you can’t get there from here,” said Tigard Senior Planning Engineer Mike McCarthy. “There is a disconnect. People have to drive to McDonald or Pacific Highway to get anywhere.”

Neighbors have suggested a compromise, of sorts: Turn the dead-end into a proper cul-de-sac, with a bicycle and pedestrian walking path to 97th Avenue for school children.

“That way kids can walk or bicycle down to school,” Don Feller said. “That’s the kind of traffic that makes a community, not cars.”

Neighbors have pooled their money to hire an attorney to work with the city on possible solutions. The property owner submitted applications to the city earlier this month, and once the permits are approved, residents are expected to appeal the decision to the city’s hearings officer and the City Council.

“We’re making this up as we go along,” Mary Feller said. “We want to know what the best arguments are. This isn’t something we can do on our own, this is a neighborhood issue.”

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The city of Tigard has said tiny View Terrace will have to be extended to 97th Avenue if developers build new homes near the street. The plan has upset neighbors who worry their idyllic neighborhood will be destroyed by increased traffic.

Open dialogue

City officials and residents have met several times to discuss the extension, Asher said, with some success.

“It’s important that we all understand each other, that we hear each other, and that we have a good, open dialogue about all this,” Asher said.

The city has to enforce the code, Asher said, but there may be other things it can do to maintain View Terrace’s community feel.

“There are things that we can do with the developer that will frustrate or inhibit cut-through traffic or speeding,” Asher said. “What are the outcomes that we care about? It’s not as simple as we either want it to connect or not. The city doesn’t want anything, we have the community’s code that we administer.”

McCarthy, the senior project engineer, lives two blocks from View Terrace on Southwest Pembrook Street, which was extended to connect with 97th Avenue in the 1980s.

McCarthy said it has managed to retain its quiet asthetic.

“I have young kids who play in the front yard,” McCarthy said. “It’s a nice street to live on. It connects right to the schools, so we probably see more people going to and from the schools than View Terrace will.”

McCarthy estimated that Pembrook Street sees a few hundred cars a day.

“If we see a car every five minutes, that’s a lot for us,” he said.

It’s unclear how many cars will actually use View Terrace if it is connected to 97th. Asher said the city will conduct a traffic study to determine how many drivers are likely to use the road.

“I can see why they’d be concerned,” McCarthy said, “but if we want to have options and a place to go, you need streets that can connect to one another.”

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