Proposed Fischer Road extension creates controversy
For years, King City leaders have been eyeing a major expansion} of their city west, eventually extending all the way to Southwest Roy Rogers Road in between Tigard and Sherwood.
But even as King City moves forward with plans to bring 528 acres of land into city limits for future development, a group of residents is pushing back against a key part of its plan: extending Southwest Fischer Road west to Roy Rogers Road.
Citizens Against Fischer Road Extension has posted an online petition airing concerns about what they claim will be a roadway that will "bring traffic, noise and crime into our quiet neighborhoods when alternatives are available." Even though city officials dispute some of the allegations in the petition, it has collected more than 1,000 signatures.
The back-and-forth took a different turn in the last week of July, when someone spray-painted the words "No Fisher (sic) Road" on the garage door of King City Mayor Ken Gibson's home.
"We could find a lot of adjectives to describe it, everything from being pissed off to disappointment," said Gibson. "The world in which we live today, you know, some people believe that acting out in a violent and destructive way is one of the ways of expressing themselves. We'd like to believe our city is above that, but it isn't."
The incident, which apparently occurred July 28 or July 29, is being investigated by the King City Police Department.
The only Black mayor in Washington County, Gibson said he doubts the incident was racially motivated.
"I think they just knew I'm the mayor and go to the top, and you're attacked that way," he said. "Look, the people of King City have elected me three times, you know, and I've never had any discouraging word or any real concern about what I'm doing or who I am or the fact that I'm one of the few Black mayors in the state of Oregon."
Mike Meyer, a resident of the area who, along with Gary Woods, helped draft the online petition opposing the road, called the graffiti on the mayor's house reprehensible and criminal. He said it is not what the group of petitioners is promoting at all. He said he and others in the Rivermeade community have offered to repaint the mayor's garage door.
"We're not the opposition, I keep saying this to them," said Meyer. "We are against an extension of Fisher Road that will create increased traffic to the communities."
He argues the issue has been turned by the city into an "us versus them" situation. All his group of supporters are asking, Meyer says, is that some of the concerns of the community around Fischer Road be addressed.
Gibson rejects that argument, saying some of those who oppose extension of the roadway incited the vandalism by "trying to make the council and the staff the enemy" and "the bad guys."
Jaimie Fender, King City City Council president, said she objects to characterizations by those opposed to the Fischer Road extension by making it sound like "we have bulldozers waiting and that we're about to put a major highway straight … down to Roy Rogers."
King City officials say the Fischer Road extension is anywhere from 15 to 20 years in the future. Before the road is extended, the city would have to acquire land, and city councilors would need to receive and approve annexation requests to extend city limits westward as well.
Fender said if the landowners in the area aren't willing to sell, then they won't, making it a moot point. Still, she said if the city doesn't plan now, how can it ensure the developers will abide by the city's rules and regulations?
Gibson said he believes what some of the Fischer Road opposition group are claiming isn't factual. That includes suggesting crime will increase in the area, something he said is a tactic used to create fear in the community. The other claim Gibson objects to is that the road will be widened, something he said isn't on the drawing board.
The mayor said the argument that the extension would impact and divide the city is the same argument that took place when the city wanted to build the Edgewater community — where he lives — two decades ago.
Meyer, who owns 25 acres of property along the Tualatin River, just to the west of what is called the Bankston conservation easement, said his family history on the property dates back to 1880. He said he simply wants to make sure planning in the area is done correctly.
"I have a vested interest in the area and making sure that King City develops responsibly, in a way that keeps the character of some of the communities that are here already, and grows in a way that keeps the area livable," said Meyer, noting that he sits on the stakeholder advisory committee that is studying the expansion plans.
The 528 acres that King City wants to annex were, at the city's request, brought into Metro's urban growth boundary in 2018. But they remain unincorporated for now. While the city has big plans — a shopping center, some 3,300 to 3,500 housing units, even a new city hall — they remain on hold unless and until that land is added into King City limits.
"I just want to express, it's our job to look at the future," said City Manager Mike Weston.
Weston says King City's population could nearly triple to 12,000 if the so-called Beef Bend South area is annexed and fully developed.
"Our job is to come up with a plan that's going to accommodate that. That includes transportation networks," Weston said.
Meyer admits he is not happy about those plans, but he is realistic about them.
"Even though we've been in this rural community, we've resigned ourselves to the fact that, OK, it's in the UGB, 3,500 homes are coming, and that's a hard pill for us all to swallow in the first place," Meyer said.
He said he and others who have signed the petition just want to avoid Fischer Road turning into a "cut-through" road, joining Southwest Beef Bend Road as one of King City's major east-west thoroughfares.
For his part, Gibson says he envisions an eventual Fischer Road extension as including at least a couple ways to slow down traffic. He suggests a 25 mph speed limit and roundabouts at major intersections.
Fender says she knows there are fears about what will happen along the roadway, and the City Council wants to hear from the community. To calm things down, the city will host a Community Cool Down Event on Aug. 10, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. (complete with free Popsicles), at King City Community Park. Fender will also host two Zoom listening sessions on Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. and Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. Details are upcoming.
A town hall meeting will be held in September on a date to be announced as well. The meeting will allow residents to voice concerns and explain how the city will address the issue.
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