Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation's goal of bringing a system of multi-use trails and a mountain bike skills course to Luscher Farm took a dramatic turn last month.
After Clackamas County denied the City's land use application to allow the project on property zoned as exclusive farm use (EFU), Project Manager Bruce Powers and Assistant City Attorney Evan Boone sat down with county Planning Manager Lindsey Nesbitt to discuss a way forward for the Luscher Trails ahead of a potential appeal.
"It became apparent during that conversation that the county's position is that in the absence of the Luscher Property... park use being adopted as part of a master plan, there is no way to have park uses allowed on EFU in Clackamas County," said Ivan Anderholm, Parks Director.
Concept designs for the Parks & Recreation Department proposal, unveiled at a couple of community open houses in November and presented to residents through four community outreach events earlier this year, incorporate some of the mowed trails that already wind their way through the 152-acre area bordered by Stafford Road to the west and Rosemont Road to the south. Additional soft-surface trails would also be built.
The Farr Bike Park, which would be located at the northern edge of the Luscher Farm property off Bergis Road, was designed by Christopher Bernhardt at C2 Recreation Consulting in Portland. It would include three downhill skills courses that vary in difficulty, with jumps in a range of sizes, banked turns, logs, wall rides and other features for mountain and BMX bikers to tackle. At the bottom of the three courses would be a trail that leads back to the top, where a large dirt berm would allow users to drop back into each course.
Plans for the bike park also call for a bike parking pad (cars would use the nearby lot at Hazelia Field), signs, a welcome kiosk, a porta-potty pad and a shade structure. Total cost for all of the trails is estimated at $250,000.
The plan has received pushback from the Friends of Luscher Farm group, which says the proposed trails and bike park don't meet the criteria for use of the property as outlined in the Luscher Area Master Plan created in 2013.
According to Anderholm, the City decided to drop its appeal with county planning, and instead they've pivoted to work with county Parks and Forest Manager Rick Gruen to bring the project and other park-type uses into the master planning process that Gruen's department is currently pursuing.
While this move postpones the potential Luscher Trails project, it's better than if LO Parks and Rec had moved forward with the appeal and been denied again, which carries with it a two-year moratorium on any land use decision for that property.
Anderholm also said they'll be pursuing an urban growth boundary (UGB) amendment with Metro to bring the entire Luscher Farm area into the UGB so the City of Lake Oswego can then annex it and have complete control over planning and zoning decisions.
"It will be great to have our own planning department, planning commission and City Council have the ability for us to implement the plan (for Luscher Farm) the public asked for 10 years ago now," Anderholm said.
This isn't the first time LO Parks and Rec has run into friction with county zoning at Luscher Farm. In 2010 the county found that some of the programming and activities scheduled to take place at Luscher Farm for the city's centennial celebration didn't fall in line with EFU zoning.
"We've had communication with the county about different things we do out at the park, and so we haven't ever fully programmed Luscher Farm as the community park that's envisioned in the Luscher Area Master Plan (LAMP)," Anderholm said. "Primarily, that's because of this zoning issue."
Should the master planning process with Gruen and county parks move forward quickly and smoothly, the Luscher Trails project could be pursued within the coming year. Following the potential amendment to the UGB with Metro's help — and thanks to provisions within both the five-party and three-party intergovernmental agreements signed by the county, Metro, West Linn, Tualatin and Lake Oswego in regard to the development of the Stafford area — LO Parks and Rec could move to have Luscher Farm zoned as park and natural area zoning (PNA) which would allow active uses such as hiking trails and a bike skills course.
According to Anderholm, LO Parks and Rec already laid the groundwork for that UGB amendment when in 2012 it sought to bring the Rassekh property just west of Luscher Farm into the UGB.
"At that time we'd put in an application to bring the entire Luscher Farm, so we've kind of done the work in order to justify that already," Anderholm said. "Because the concept planning commitment to the Stafford basin was up in the air, there were some lawsuits flying around about the area so we had no support bringing that in, but with the signing of the three-party agreement, it explicitly allows prior to the greater concept planning, to bring Luscher Farm in as park property. We'll make a concerted effort to do that, but in the meantime we'll be working with the county."
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