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Oregon City resident Tom Geil: Should Icon Construction bring in new plans, it opens the door to new testimony.

For those who have been following the Park Place Crossing Master Plan, there have been several meetings with lots of testimony by the public, as well as detailed questions from some of the planning commissioners themselves.Tom Geil

Oregon City planning commissioners have many further questions from all the testimony plus their own discoveries in going over the original Park Place Concept Plan, and the code variances that are being requested by the applicant, Icon Construction. This has resulted in a continuance of the public meetings, and even an extension of the usual 120-day rule for completing development reviews.

So many issues have been brought up by the public, including:

• Lack of north-south connections for a planned Holly Lane extension, which was part of the original Concept Plan.

• If a north-south connector road is not possible at this time, emergency evacuations on Holcomb Boulevard would imperil residents living off Holcomb.

• The applicants are asking for a variance to take a connector road down from the 85-foot width required by code to 52 feet, in order to squeeze through a pinch point behind the existing Trail View HOA neighborhood. The HOA president has read a letter from their attorney denying an easement of HOA property on that pinch-point corner.

• Opening stub-roads into existing neighborhoods for the planned 477 homes would worsen the already congested neighborhood traffic and place a bottleneck at the half-block Winston Drive.

• There is an existing creek bed behind Trail View HOA that extends down into properties south of the concept area. There are known springs, creeks, even a pond in the area. There have been no updates to the GIS map since 1997. Residents are demanding that the Natural Resources Overlay District be updated to include these aquifers.

• Development would occur in a known slide area, and with moisture between the layers of clay. Adding more impervious surfaces and homes could make the area more prone to slides. One testimony implored the Planning Commission to take into consideration that there is no slide insurance available, and that homeowners would need to be informed of a pending danger, or the city could face lawsuits.

• Icon is asking for a variance to reduce some lot sizes from the city code minimum of 2,500 square feet to only 1,800. The original Park Place Concept Plan called for 5,000 square-foot lots. A mental health specialist spoke to the commission about jamming children into smaller townhomes and the impact it can have on them.

• Emergency workers (ambulance drivers, firefighters) have addressed the gridlock that can occur when emergency evacuations occur and how it impedes their response time.

There has been more public testimony than Icon probably expected, so they have asked the Planning Commission for another continuance to review the objections. Previously, public testimony has been limited to only new testimony, but should Icon bring in new plans, it opens the door to testimony from the public in response to anything new that Icon may present. Some citizens have vocalized complaints that now that they have brought up issues, a continuance gives Icon more time to change their plans to work around and even avoid the issues.

There has been some controversy over limiting testimony to only new evidence by new individuals so that the hearings would not go beyond the 120-day limit as outlined below.

I asked Aquilla Hurd-Ravich of the Planning Division to provide me with the new timelines that may unfold.

It is important that citizens understand that these are only high-level land-use projections based on "what is known at this time, because the process is evolving." Aquilla's email started with the recent applicant's request for another continuance during the May 23 Planning Commission hearing.

Planning Commission will continue its public hearing on July 11, and the agenda packet for this meeting will be posted online no later than July 1.

Commissioner Mike Mitchell indicated the commission may need an additional meeting to deliberate and make a decision. Assuming that meeting will be July 25 (but it could be in August) this agenda packet will be posted online no later than July 18.

Aquilla's email outlined a few options that could occur:

• It is possible this meeting may not be needed if a decision was made on July 11

• There is a possibility the record may be closed if all comments and rebuttals were heard on July 11

• It is possible that the hearing gets continued again

Aquilla said the next set of dates are not as clearly defined, as different scenarios may arise. Here are the steps that need to occur:

• After the Planning Commission makes a decision, staff will mail and email a Notice of Decision to anyone who has standing (who testified and provided us their contact information). This happens 1-2 days after they make a decision.

• The appeal period lasts for 14 calendar days from the date the Notice of Decision was mailed.

• Once an appeal is received, the Planning Division schedules a hearing and sends notice 20 days before the hearing to those with standing.

• There may be more than one appeal hearing in front of the City Commission.

• When the City Commission makes a final decision, staff will send notice of that decision

It is important to keep in mind that the applicant has control of the timeline because by law the city is required to conclude the land-use hearing process including all appeals 120 days after the application has been deemed complete. The applicant has the discretion to extend the 120-day timeline by providing a waiver in writing to the Planning Division.

Tom Geil is an Oregon City resident and former planning commissioner.

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