The longtime councilor said a proposed residential development is the 'catalyst' for his resignation.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Scappoose City Councilor Joel Haugen, center, listens to a speaker at a council meeting in early 2020.Joel Haugen announced his resignation from the Scappoose City Council on Feb. 15, citing the proposed Buxton Ranch residential development on JP West Road.

"Amid the current scheme of things, I have probably done everything that I can do to help serve the community we call home," Haugen wrote in a Feb. 15 email to Mayor Scott Burge and other city leaders. "Thus, as of this time and date I am resigning my position on council."

Haugen said the development exemplifies his unhappiness with the city's direction.

"The recent Buxton floodplain development proposal is the specific catalyst for my decision. I see the proposed Buxton project exactly where Scappoose should not be going, in an era of rising flood levels for many decades to come," Haugen wrote.

Buxton Family Investments, a limited-liability corporation based in Southern Oregon, is planning a 48-lot single-family housing development on a 17-acre lot that the South Scappoose Creek runs through.

"I cannot contest this project at the planning commission stage nor vote on any council action as a sitting councilor, so it makes sense to return to the greater citizenry," Haugen wrote. "This is by no means intended as an affront to the talented city staff we enjoy, but my sense of what is in the best interest of our community as we continue in this unprecedented period of change for Scappoose and everywhere else."

Haugen said he didn't believe it would be ethical to stay on the City Council while opposing the project.

"I'm pretty much the lone ranger on City Council," Haugen said. The votes to reject the developer's proposal "simply wouldn't be there."

Resigning from the City Council means he can testify in opposition to the project, Haugen said.

Neighbors have expressed concerns about flooding on the property. The proposed site plan shows the homes on the west side of the property, further from the creek, but many of the homes would still be within the floodplain boundary.

Haugen lives close to the proposed development.

Haugen said he and Mike Sheehan, a prominent Scappoose attorney and environmental advocate who died in 2018, were two of the principal opponents to a similar development proposal on the property nearly 20 years ago.

Prior to his resignation, Haugen served as the council liaison for the parks and recreation committee.

"I do plan to periodically comment on things Scappoose at council meetings and park & rec committee meetings, so while gone, I won't be far," he noted in his resignation.

Haugen was first elected to the Scappoose City Council in 2014 to complete the two years remaining in a vacated four-year term. He served two years before losing his run for another term against three newcomers, two of whom — current Council President Megan Greisen and former city councilor Natalie Sanders — Haugen had encouraged to run.

Haugen only spent three months out of office before being appointed to fill a vacancy left by Barbara Hayden, who resigned because she was moving out of the city.

Haugen was re-elected in 2018 and would have completed his term at the end of 2022.

At least four other Scappoose city councilors have resigned in the past five years, but all four resigned because they were moving out of the city, unlike Haugen.

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