Council receives pushback on annexation of commercial area
Forced annexation of a small island of properties along Meadows Road, Bonita Road and Carman Drive in the Lake Forest neighborhood drew the ire of a pair of residents who are caught in the middle.
On Tuesday, the Lake Oswego City Council held a public hearing regarding the annexation of six properties proposed to be brought into the city, at which Laurel and Ben Mahar — the residents of one property on Carman Drive — voiced their dismay over the City's decision. An attorney for the owner of a business park in the area also testified in favor of the annexation, but requested a delay to allow for business licensing and adaptation to fee schedules.
The council ultimately opted to keep the record open for written testimony to be submitted through March 12, and will resume deliberation on the issue during its regular meeting March 19 at 3 p.m.
The City's intent is to bring in a handful of commercial properties which sit behind the Mahars' residence along Meadow Avenue and Meadows Road, including the property at 5200 Meadows Road which contains executive office suites where approximately 200 small businesses, physical and virtual, operate. The annexation of this area would bring the City about $27,204 annually in tax revenue.
According to the Mahars, this move by the City represents a direct contradiction to what council said it wouldn't do — forced island annexation of residential property — when it decided not to adopt two ordinances changing the rules on City annexation at meetings last fall.
"I'm opposed to this forced annexation. This has been a nightmare," Laurel Mahar told the council. "This is impact on a private, residential person. We're on a fixed income, and so this property tax increase you're going to force on us is going to make an impact."
According to Mahar, she and her husband received notice of their property's zoning as "campus research and development," as well as the City's intent to annex, back in December after City staff received direction from council to initiate the process.
The Mahars say they've since had three different signs go up and down in their yard indicating their pending annexation over the course of the past three months, which also included the announcement that a resource protection district would be placed between the several properties where they touch a portion of Carter Creek which runs behind them.
"We had so many different notifications, I never got this notification. We'd respectfully ask for an extension to address these sensitive lands because we have both Carter Creek and the sewer running through the back of our property," Mahar said. "I'd like more time to address that."
Lake Forest neighbor Kate Meyers also showed up to the meeting Tuesday to read a letter from the Lake Forest Neighborhood Association urging the council to reject the annexation of the area. In her testimony, Meyers claimed that in deliberations leading up to this proposal, the council committed to not using forced island annexation as a way to bring residential property into the City.
"The council did say they wanted to use forced island annexation to bring in some islands of commercial properties," Meyers said. "There are some residential properties in the midst of this island that probably should have been researched and disclosed before the council made that decision. As it is, this ordinance would mean the council is going back on its word."
According to Ben Mahar, there are no services that Lake Oswego is offering him that his property doesn't already have covered and he feels there is no advantage to having the City take over.
Testimony on the proposed annexation was also given by Michael Robinson, a representative of Mike Kelly who is the property owner at 5200 Meadows Road and operates the 5200 Meadows Executive Office Suites.
Robinson asked the council to allow a three-year delay on the annexation in order for the 200 or so businesses that operate at the property to get acquainted with the City's business licensing and fee schedule.
According to Kelly, he's fielded many inquiries from business owners in his building who are upset over the proposed annexation because they chose his building for the purpose that 5200 Meadows Road was not a part of Lake Oswego, and they therefore didn't have to license their business or pay the City's fees.
The council responded with lukewarm interest toward
the idea. Councilor Jackie Manz stated that business licensing and fees are simply a part of the cost of doing business.
Also on Tuesday
The council voted 6-1 to authorize City Attorney David Powell to support West Linn and Tualatin in a Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) challenge filed by the Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Portland and David W. Marks regarding the three-party Stafford IGA approved earlier this year.
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