LUBA remands decision to remove traffic light

by: WASHINGTON COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF LAND USE AND TRANSPORTATION - Washington County had planned to remove a traffic signal along Tualatin-Sherwood Road at the entrance to the Albertson's complex and Regal Cinemas but a LUBA decision put the action on hold.The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals has remanded a decision to remove a traffic signal that feds into two major city shopping complexes along Tualatin-Sherwood Road.

On March 5, LUBA remanded Washington County’s previous decision to remove a stop light at the entrances to both the Albertson’s and Regal Cinemas complexes. Attorneys for the property owners argued that the signal’s removal (and the ability to turn left when exiting the complexes), is a land use decision and not simply a county engineering decision, something LUBA agreed with.

But LUBA findings stated that it “is unable to resolve the parties’ dispute regarding whether the decision is subject to the city’s (Sherwood) planning authority.”

As a result, the land use appeals board is sending the issue back to the county and the petitioners where they’ll have the opportunity to address what the exact relationship between the city, county planners and the permitting of development along the portion of Tualatin-Sherwood Road that falls inside city limits.

Both MGP X Properties, LLC (owners of Sherwood Market Place) and TakFal Properties (owners of the Regal Cinemas complex) challenged Washington County’s proposal to remove the traffic light.

The Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation has been working on plans to widen Tualatin-Sherwood Road from Borchers Drive to Langer Farms Parkway for several years.

Part of the $12 million project calls for the removal of the traffic signal, which would mean that traffic exiting Sherwood Market Place (the Albertson’s complex) would be required to turn right onto Tualatin-Sherwood Road. The same would be true for those exiting Regal Cinemas. A six-inch-tall center median at that intersection would prevent crossing in either direction, traffic engineers have said.

Some property owners and businesses said removal of the light would significantly hurt their businesses. Katie Boedigheimer, the general manager of Rose’s restaurant, testified at a previous Sherwood City Council meeting that the signal’s removal could put her restaurant out of business.

Phil Grillo, an attorney representing TakFal Properties, has previously told the city that his client wants to see the traffic light stay in place unless other options would allow access to the Regal Cinemas theaters.

Representatives from Takfal Properties said the company may appeal portions of the LUBA decision that didn’t fall in its favor to the Oregon Court of Appeals, according to a press release. The deadline to file that appeal is March 26.

Stephen Roberts, communications coordinator for the Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation, said the county is still reviewing what its next steps will be. Meanwhile, the Tualatin Sherwood Road widening project is on hold until the legal issues are settled, he said.

The city of Sherwood is reviewing the LUBA decision as well.

“Our intention is to collaborate with all of the parties to find a solution that works for everyone involved,” City Manager Joe Gall said on March 12.

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