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Tom Geil: Oregon City Planning Commission holds its second play/meeting regarding the Park Place Crossing Master Plan

On Monday evening, May 9, a theatrical performance the likes of which Oregon City has never seen took place at City Hall.

It was a standing-room-only performance, with an audience that extended out into the foyer. This tragedy play was brought to you by Icon Construction and their development team. It included moments of laughter, booing, complete silence as actors and audience were stunned by an Icon actor's loss of words in responding to Planning Commission's questions. The play lasted until 11 p.m., longer than most Planning Commission plays that end at 10 p.m. But this play was such a hit that it is being extended over to Monday, May 23.

Get your free tickets early, as it may be a standing-room-only affair again. Seating is limited. Join in the fun as Icon actors stumble and trip over their nearly well-rehearsed lines. The moments of silence will cause you to be as speechless as Icon's actors, lawyers and technical geologists.

On May 9, Oregon City's Planning Commission held its second play/meeting regarding the Park Place Crossing Master Plan. Planning commissioners extended the length of the meeting, due to all the people crammed in the meeting room and out into the lobby, but not everyone who came got a chance to deliver their comments due to the late hour.

Oregon City staff presented first and then Icon got to deliver their reports, which took over an hour. Then, several of the commissioners, led by Chair Dirk Shlagenhaufer, had pointed questions for Icon regarding how they were skirting the codes to pack so many homes into the area, and what they were going to do about the traffic coming through opened stub roads.

Commissioners had definitely done their homework, and some had even done site visits. Planning Commissioner Bob La Salle had lists of questions for Icon about how the developers were not meeting code. As typical of Icon, their answers were incomplete or nebulous. In fact, a few times they "appeared to lie," which resulted in outbursts and even boos from the gathered audience.

There were several moments of silence, while either the city staff or Icon tried to figure out who was going to answer La Salle's questions. Many questions went unanswered. La Salle spent over an hour delving into great detail of how the code and their plans were in conflict. La Salle referenced each code by number and oftentimes left Icon and city staff at a loss of words.

The residents down Edenwild Lane just east of the project area raised multiple objections highlighting incomplete and inaccurate information in the Oregon City Planning Commission staff report. They pointed out that the Oregon City Local Wetland Inventory has not been updated since 1999 and does not include the eastern half of the proposed Park Place Crossing development. Finding that the developer's map for stream locations didn't match the U.S. Geological Survey topographical map, they requested a full inventory of streams, creeks and ponds that could ultimately impact project areas.COURTESY MAPS: TOM GEIL - Developers provided a Natural Resource Overlay District (NROD) map that leaves out the location of two branches of Charman Creek that begin behind the Trail View subdivision and run through the proposed development. These branches are shown in the U.S. Geological Survey topographical map and should be protected by the NROD regulations.

The evening ended with a powerful delivery by Trail View's HOA President Brian Sutton, along with his wife, Sara, and HOA Vice President Jen Reitshtein. A real sucker punch of the night came when they read a letter from the Trail View HOA attorney, denying the right of Icon to create an easement of HOA property for the construction of the north-south construction of Holly Lane.

A "trigger" point of increased anger for others was Icon saying that until the trips at Winston measure 2,000 or more, they will not "consider" additional roads. Reports by La Salle and others is that it will be more like 3,000-4,000 vehicle trips on the short, half-block Winston Drive. This is an egregious offense to many, because by that time it will be too late for those who live in this development, and it could take years to provide another outlet for the traffic. During the fire evacuations of September 2020, it took residents of this 108-home area over an hour to exit off Winston onto Holcomb, and another hour to get down Holcomb. Imagine the addition of 477 more homes using Winston.

There were no citizens who supported Icon, only negative comments. However, this evening also provides Icon the opportunity to use citizen complaints to come back with even stronger arguments to support their development.

There is still time for our residents to send in written comments or appear before the Planning Commission before they make their decision. Next meeting is at 7 p.m. on May 23 at City Hall. Commissioners have agreed that citizen comments will go first, to allow everyone to be heard.

Tom Geil is an Oregon City resident who formerly volunteered for the city as a planning commissioner.

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