Cornelius approves transfer of county roads at east end of city
The City of Cornelius has officially requested to take control of parts of three roads at the east end of town.
The council unanimously approved a resolution Monday, March 5, approving the transfer of portions of South Webb Road, Northwest 341st Avenue and Southwest 345th Avenue from the jurisdiction of Washington County to the jurisdiction of the city. All three road segments are within Cornelius city limits, but the county has continued to maintain them as part of its own road system, according to a municipal staff report.
Webb Road is an access point to the Laurel Woods subdivision, a neighborhood expected to include close to 900 houses that is currently under construction in the southeastern corner of Cornelius. A segment of the road extending south of Cornelius city limits is not being proposed for transfer to the city's control.
Only 341st Avenue from the rail crossing northward, north of Tualatin Valley Highway, is being sought by the city. In his staff report, City Engineer Terry Keyes noted the city plans to reconstruct that part of 341st Avenue this summer as part of the Greystone development, a 54-lot subdivision that has been approved for the northwestern corner of Cornelius.
Similarly, the city has only requested jurisdiction over 345th Avenue — the westernmost in the series of numbered roads that radiates outward from the Willamette River in Portland — between its own rail crossing and Tualatin Valley Highway. The avenue extends about a mile further to the south, where it intersects with Southwest Cook Road, beyond Cornelius city limits.
"Just a process we need to go through," Keyes said of the resolution at Monday's council meeting. "We started it 15 years ago with some of these roads, and we never finished it. So we're trying to finish something that we should have done quite a while ago."
The Washington County Board of Commissioners must approve the road transfers before they become official. The resolution adopted by the City Council on Monday asks that the county commissioners give their approval or denial of the transfer within a year.
The county will need to hold a public hearing on the matter, according to Keyes.
The idea of bringing parts of 341st and 345th avenues and Webb Road under city jurisdiction is not a new one. According to Monday's staff report, the Cornelius City Council adopted a resolution in 2003 to start the process of transferring the roads to the city's control, but the transfer was not completed at the time. Keyes said the city did not formally request that the county transfer the roads then.
Monday's City Council vote to transfer the roads comes one month to the day after the council approved a new transportation system plan for the city on Feb. 5. The plan describes a number of projects intended to address Cornelius' growing needs, as the city itself is slated to grow rapidly as the end of the decade approaches.
One of the projects outlined in the plan is the closure of the 345th Avenue railroad crossing. North 29th Avenue would be extended south of West Baseline Street, providing a new route for traffic between Tualatin Valley Highway and 345th Avenue. A traffic signal may be installed at the intersection of 29th Avenue and Baseline Street as part of that upgrade. A second new signal is possible at the intersection of 341st Avenue and Tualatin Valley Highway, the eastward continuation of Baseline Street.
The transportation system plan focuses particularly on eastern Cornelius, where all of the county roads the city wants to take under its jurisdiction are located.
More than 1,000 single-family homes are either under construction or have been approved for construction throughout Cornelius. Most of them are situated at the east end of the city, toward Hillsboro. That means a significant portion of the population increase that Cornelius forecasts — Mayor Jef Dalin suggested in his "State of the City" remarks last Monday, Feb. 26, that the city of almost 12,000 may increase in population by almost one-third over the next few years — will occur within the Hillsboro School District.
The school district owns a sizable property on the west side of 345th Avenue, just south of the railroad tracks. In the future, it could seek to build at least one new school there or relocate district offices to the property.
A Long Range Facility Plan produced by the Hillsboro School District in 2016 lists the property at 305 S.W. 345th Ave. as one of two in the district's land inventory that could support a high school.
Cornelius is the second-largest city in the state without its own high school, behind only Happy Valley. Most high school students who live in Cornelius attend Forest Grove High School in neighboring Forest Grove. The Hillsboro School District-owned land lies just outside Cornelius city limits.
By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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