Beaverton city councilors are denied an appeal for a road project
A project to improve the intersection of Southwest Murray Boulevard and Walker Road will continue as planned after Beaverton's planning commission denied an appeal by two Beaverton city councilors who listed issues with the project.
The planning commission held a public hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 16, regarding an appeal submitted by Councilors Marc San Soucie and Mark Fagin on July 22.
It's unusual for city councilors to appeal a decision by city staff. But San Soucie and Fagin said they objected to the decision made by Beaverton's planning director, Cheryl Twete, who signed off July 17 on plans by Washington County for additional left-turn lanes, dedicated right-turn lanes, and an additional southbound lane on Murray Boulevard to Southwest Bowerman Drive.
San Soucie, who is married to Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington, says he does not believe that the county's intersection design — or Twete's decision to approve it — is consistent with Beaverton's efforts to promote pedestrian safety.
The public hearing allowed for city and county officials, along with the appellants, to explain or express their take on the project for the commission to then consider.
After each party had a chance to speak, the commissioners asked questions or stated concerns with the project findings.
Beaverton Planning Commissioner Scott Winter said both sides had compelling arguments.
"Our appellants make very clear and logical criteria available to us for reaching a different decision," said Winter during the hearing. "However, although I agree with some of what they said, I'm not convinced of the end result of going back for redesign is going to get us a better project."
Gerry Uba, also a member of the planning commission, wasn't convinced by San Soucie and Fagin's arguments that the project doesn't meet Beaverton's safety standards. He said Beaverton's planning staff followed the city's criteria and determined the intersection plans are compliant.
"They've done everything they can based on what they have to approve this project based on the approval criteria," Uba said.
Planning Commissioner Kim Overhage also addressed city code in her remarks.
"A key item for consideration is efficient and safe vehicular and pedestrian traffic," said Overhage. "Those words in the code do not say the 'most' efficient and 'most' safe vehicular and pedestrian traffic. That's the trade-off we have to make as the commissioners in balancing all of this."
Now that their appeal has been denied, San Soucie and Fagin have 21 days to bring the matter to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, which can overrule the local planning commission. But San Soucie said he does not plan to appeal to the state board.
"While I do not agree with the decision, I am well aware that LUBA offers substantial deference to the 'governing body' — in this case, the planning commission and staff as the deciders — in matters of code and policy interpretation," he said. "I do not believe a successful argument can be made, that LUBA would acknowledge, that the Planning Commission's decision was unacceptably contrary to city code and policies."
However, he said that there are some discussions that should take place at the City Council to clarify Beaverton's safety standards. He plans to start those discussions with fellow councilors.
The Pamplin Media Group reached out to Fagin for comment regarding the appeal but did not receive a response as of press time.
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