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Christine Kosinksi: New residents of area will have inadequate roads and be unable to purchase insurance

It's been coming since 2002, when Metro brought Oregon City lands into the urban growth boundary; the Park Place Concept Plan was then proposed to be a community of 1,576 homes with a central community square.COURTESY PHOTO: HAMLET OF BEAVERCREEK - Lidar imagery shows the landslide dangers existing within the boundaries of proposed Park Place Crossing Master Plan. Red and orange areas have high to very high susceptibility to future landslides where homeowners are unable to obtain landslide insurance for losses.

In 2004, community meetings took place with the residents of Park Place and some from the Holly Lane neighborhood. The citizens were told that the "concept plan" is a vision, a way for the citizens to dream of the type of community and neighborhoods they value. The community named a set of "core values" including recreational opportunities and "a safe, interconnected system of roads and other transportation facilities that allows people to move freely within the neighborhood and connects them to other parts of the city and region."

Sadly, out of 22 core values, the community may only achieve about five of them. This is why, since 2008, the people have overwhelmingly voted no for this development. They have stood their ground, and for good reason, the transportation and safety for the people have been seriously compromised by the proposed dense development.

Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill in 2016 that took away the people's right to vote on annexations, giving that right to local governments. This is sad because the people tried to stop it three times.

The Park Place Concept Plan includes building a "Holly Lane extension" from Redland Road, to connect into Holcomb. Against the will of the people living here, the city put Holly Lane into its Transportation System Plan. Six landslides in the floods of 1996-97 led to the total loss of two homes on Holly Lane and four homes being severely damaged. After the floods, insurance companies would not write landslide insurance anymore.

Oregon City must go against its own Comprehensive Plan to use Holly Lane, or to build an extension of it. These guidelines prohibit development "undercutting the lower edge of a slope" in areas where "landslides can be triggered by heavy rains." Further, the city must go against Statewide Land Use Goal 7 which is to protect people and their property in hazardous areas. Even further, it must go against its agreement with FEMA's Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

If the city tries to widen Holly Lane, or if the proposed heavy traffic causes more landslides, who will pay the losses? The city has also talked about using Swan Road as an alternative, but Swan Road would have to be brought down and over a more difficult landslide area, then over Redland Road. This is another horrible idea.

Dr. Bill Burns, a certified geological engineer with the state's Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, has expressed deep concerns over development of Swan Road's proposed connection with Morton Road, which should be enough to tell the city, "You don't want to go here."

Park Place's developer was allowed to cut down hundreds of valuable trees needed to hold water in their roots keeping the water away from the landslides. The trees were needed to cool and clean this environment, to capture hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide and to produce life-giving oxygen.

People's safety has been compromised, not only here, but in the proposed road system which places Oregon City citizens in harm's way. Traffic engineer's reports have been poor and do not point out the hundreds of safety issues.

Development here may be inevitable, but it must be safe and responsible. FEMA states "use your zoning codes when developing in hazardous areas." The people of Park Place and Holly Lane must not be held hostage by a city and developer whose main motive is density at any cost rather than safe and livable communities.

In 2007, the city approved the Park Place Concept Plan with its 22 core values given by the people. I ask the city to incorporate these values into action to guide all future development in Park Place.

You asked the people to dream, and they did. Please don't give the people more broken dreams and empty promises.

Christine Kosinski is a resident of unincorporated Clackamas County near Oregon City.


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