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Two developers disagree about alternatives to current route that goes through a wetland in North Bethany; commissioners split on 3-1 vote.

Washington County commissioners have approved a new alignment for Shackelford Road in the unincorporated community of North Bethany.

But the 3-1 vote on Sept. 25 wasn't without controversy.

The current alignment for Shackelford, also known as "Road A," runs through a wetland that is east of Kaiser Road and west of Eleanor Avenue and is unlikely to obtain state and federal approvals.

Shackelford is envisioned to be the main east-west collector road between Germantown Road and Springville Road.

"The existing alignment is the worst of all possible worlds," said Nora Curtis of Clean Water Services, which is planning a stormwater outlet near the site.

The county board faced a choice between a northern and a southern route. The planning staff and planning commission recommended the southern route.

Polygon Homes, which is building to the north, favored a southern route. KB Trees, which owns 9.75 acres to the south, favored a northern route.

Greg Hathaway, a Portland lawyer who spoke for KB Trees, said the final decision on a wetlands route lay with the Department of State Lands and the Army Corps of Engineers.

"We believe it is premature for you to make this decision," he said.

But Pam Verdadero, who spoke for Polygon Homes, said those agencies lean toward a southern alignment and are awaiting the county's decision.

"Every time I turn around, there's another dispute out there," Commissioner Roy Rogers said. "But I really don't see an alternative" to the southern route.

Since 2009, the North Bethany transportation system plan has been amended eight times — but this route had been left intact until now.

Commissioner Greg Malinowski, whose district includes North Bethany, was the lone dissenter on the basis that the new alignment would remove a requirement for pedestrian and bicycle access to a community park being planned for North Bethany. Though the developer could provide such access, Malinowski said it would be less likely unless it is required.

He said pedestrians and bicyclists would have to go about one-third mile more to reach the park.

"I don't have to look at who's going to win and who's going to lose," he said of the conflict between developers. "I do have to look at what's good for the county."

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