Lake Oswego City Council authorizes mayor to sign Stafford agreement
Lake Oswego city councilors voted 6-1 this week to authorize Mayor Kent Studebaker to sign a three-party Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the City, Tualatin and West Linn that lays out a path for future development of the Stafford area.
Much of the discussion and public testimony at Tuesday night's council meeting centered around provisions of the IGA that place time restrictions on when the three cities could begin concept planning.
The agreement states that no city will complete or adopt a concept plan or apply for or support an urban growth boundary expansion into any part of Stafford until the "I-205 Widening Project" has received preliminary design approval, funding or construction is scheduled to begin within two years or less.
The proposed I-205 project would expand the freeway to three lanes in each direction between Stafford Road and Oregon City and replace or reconstruct the Abernethy Bridge.
The agreement also places a 10-year moratorium (or until the I-205 project is set to commence) on completion and/or adoption of a concept plan for any portion of Stafford north of the Tualatin River.
Councilor John LaMotte opposes the time restrictions and cast the lone dissenting vote on Tuesday night. Members of the Stafford Land Owners Association — including West Linn real estate developer Herb Koss — also oppose the restrictions, testifying at Tuesday's meeting that they would like to see concept planning and traffic analysis studies done before work on the I-205 project gets underway.
The Council authorized Studebaker to sign the agreement with three specific exceptions to language proposed by West Linn, which councilors asked City Attorney David Powell to remove from the agreement in concert with the two other cities.
Those three provisions involve coordination between the cities, the amount of time each city is required to give notice before initiating any concept plan, and the criteria that would be considered when the three cities are determining their boundaries in Stafford.
A vote on the agreement by the West Linn City Council is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 10. Tualatin has not yet scheduled a vote, according to its latest council agenda.
Tuesday's vote in Lake Oswego came on the heels of an informational meet-and-greet for stakeholders hosted last week by the Stafford Land Owners Association and Borland Neighborhood Association. At that meeting, Hamlet board members Bill Markt and Rich Fiala talked about the history of the Stafford area and how its residents see themselves playing a part in future development.
Stafford resident Rick Cook was also in attendance and made a point to let the elected officials in the room know that the folks in the Hamlet wanted a seat at the table during the planning process.
(At Tuesday's council meeting, LaMotte suggested extra wording be added to the agreement to strengthen Hamlet residents' role, but the rest of the council found the current wording to be sufficiently inclusive.)
The meet-and-greet was attended by representatives from all three cities, as well as officials from Clackamas County and Metro. All five agencies signed a five-party IGA in 2017 that allowed Stafford to remain under an urban reserve designation — which means the land can be incorporated into the urban growth boundary (UGB) within the next 50 years — while handing control of development planning to the cities.
The three-way IGA being discussed now would nail down how the cities would work together to plan the urbanization of the Stafford area.
Scott Fregonese, a West Linn native and principal planner at the urban planning firm Fregonese Associates, outlined some of the plans that have been laid out for the Stafford area in the past and explained what those plans might look like in the future. Fregonese was followed by Gregg Weston, longtime Stafford resident and chief engineering manager at 3J Consulting, who outlined the work and investment it would take to develop Stafford.
Much of Stafford sits on a steep grade, he said, which severely restricts the amount of developable land and makes building infrastructure such as roads, sewer, stormwater and other utilities difficult, but not impossible.
Despite that, Weston said the developable area in Stafford is approximately 1,452 acres — a project he estimated would take about $2.7 billion to complete, split 60/40 between developers and the three cities.
Within that growth scenario, Fregonese said that preserving open space, preserving tree canopy and preventing the three cities from growing into each other were major points to keep in mind.
According to Weston — and agreed upon by just about every official in the room — an impact analysis describing how traffic patterns might be influenced by incremental development in different areas of the Hamlet would dictate proposed improvements to infrastructure.
Some of the planners, engineers and government officials from the three cities agreed that any widening and improvement to Interstate 205 would need to be completed before development could take place within Stafford.
But as LaMotte's vote demonstrated Tuesday, disagreement remains about when the concept plans from each of the three cities need to be completed — before or after an I-205 project.
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