Traffic study, signs among commission's considerations

by: REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The Lakeridge stadium seating currently is uncovered, and additional seating comes in the form of temporary bleachers.The effort to overhaul the Lakeridge High School stadium — additional permanent seating, more lighting, a cover, new signs and fencing — is currently in the hands of the Development Review Commission.

The commission — a seven-member citizen advisory group that reviews development applications for compliance with city land use and design regulations — reviewed the project at a public hearing March 17, which was continued to this coming Monday. On the table are applications for variances, or exceptions, to sign code; a development review permit for the stadium seating, lighting and other factors; and a modification to a conditional use permit, which involves changes to a decision the city made a few years ago regarding the number of permanent seats at the SUBMITTED RENDERING: WAYNE CHIN - This rendering of the project includes most of the improvement options that could be done to the Lakeridge High stadium.

The school is at 1235 Overlook Drive, west of Stafford Road. The approximately $1.5 million project is to be paid for with construction excise tax revenue and donations, and, at least some of the changes could be done this summer, depending on the outcome of the public hearing next week and the school board’s approval later this year.

Senior city planner Leslie Hamilton told the commission that school district officials must submit an explanation for why they chose not to submit a traffic study and provide justification for an exception to a lighting standard and sign variances. The commission said more time was needed to allow the school district to submit a written response to the criticisms of the SUBMITTED GRAPHIC - Lakeridge High is at 1235 Overlook Drive on the west side of Stafford Road.

Hamilton said new signs proposed as a part of the stadium project are too big or the wrong type for the zone they’re in.

“Staff finds that the applicant’s proposal is contrary to the purpose of the sign code in that the pole sign would detract from the attractive appearance of the community,” Hamilton’s staff report says.

School district officials say the signs aren’t where most people driving by will see them, and the signs make it clear to visiting teams who they’re taking on.

“We want them to know who we are and that this is the home of the Pacers, and there is some pride associated with that,” said Stuart Ketzler, executive director of finance for the school district.

Lights are shining too high on the south side of the proposed stadium structure, which could disturb neighbors, Hamilton’s report said.

The issue of the traffic study is complicated and full of history. About 15 years ago, the city gave the school district permission to install 1,200 permanent seats, and in 2008, in response to a request to allow varsity football home games, the school got permission to have 1,800 temporary bleachers. The district wants to add additional permanent covered seating that’s covered and accommodates 1,000 spectators, starting with enough space for 600 people and then later adding seating for 200 more people on either side.

School district officials recently have told the city they do not need a traffic study because, in 2008, they met the requirements the city gave them after a request to bring in temporary bleachers seating 1,800 people for home games at Lakeridge High. The school met the conditions with a school traffic and parking plan for which spectators park elsewhere and are shuttled to games. Right now, football game attendees who sit on the temporary bleachers get rained on.

“While there may be some desire by the city engineering department to improve the existing traffic control program, the engineering department has not provided any documentation or any specific rationale for such improvements,” says a Feb. 13 letter to Hamilton from Ketzler.

No one from the public testified at the public hearing, but there have been letters to the Development Review Commission from neighbors who are critical of the stadium improvements.

The options for improvements, which could be combined, include new grandstands and canopy in the central section (basic improvement) as well as new grandstands with canopies on the west section and east sections, temporary grandstand platform at the north side of track, new entry plaza at the east parking lot, new concessions/team room/weight room building and new site fencing.

Pat Dulin, who also lives near the Lakeridge stadium, said in a March 10 letter that he doesn’t like the idea of a big stadium in a neighborhood and permanent fencing along Cloverleaf Road.

“The current condition allows for open space used by many Lake Oswego residents in a pastoral setting,” Dulin said. “This proposal will change that permanently.”

Hamilton’s report says the stadium’s size makes it compatible if certain conditions are met.

Gordon Harris, who also lives near Lakeridge, said in a March 12 letter that he is concerned that more, improved permanent seating will bring more spectators. He said people attending games don’t always adhere to the Good Neighbor Parking Plan for Treetop Lane that the school district created in response to neighbors’ complaints, intending to ease parking problems during varsity football games. One stipulation is game attendees must park on one side of Treetop Lane because there are no sidewalks, and have one side of the street open provides a place for people to walk. Harris said people didn’t follow the parking plan during a Civil War game in 2011.

“Both sides of the street were parked, bumper to bumper, except at driveway aprons, from Overlook Drive to Fernwood Drive,” Harris wrote.

Harris said at the next Civil War, things went more smoothly.

Ketzler said many people are already coming to games, but they’re using temporary bleachers, and there are five big games per year and a parking plan.

Depending on the outcome of the public hearing, board member Bob Barman said soon a more official cost estimate could come out and the project will be bid out. The school board then could give the project the green light. Construction then could start.

“It could still go online this summer, which is what Lakeridge’s goal is,” Barman said.

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