Wilsonville wants industrial land. Tualatin wants residential. The two cities must meet in the middle

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp raises a point July 16 at a joint Tualatin-Wilsonville city council meeting on the future of Basalt Creek. One thing is clear from the recent joint meeting between the Wilsonville and Tualatin city councils: there remains a lot of ground to cover before the two cities meet in the middle on the future of the Basalt Creek Concept Plan.

“It’s a fairly complex landscape,” consultant John Fregonese said of the 847-acre Basalt Creek planning area that separates the northern city limits of Wilsonville from the southern edge of Tualatin. “A lot can be done with this, and I know industrial is one of the big thoughts, but there are going to be a lot of little thoughts that are left over; it’s going to be a fairly complex area.”

The July 16 joint council meeting marks the first of several such planned gatherings over the next 18 to 24 months. Held at the Tualatin Police Department, it featured elected officials and staff from both cities attempting to hash out the first details spelling out how Basalt Creek will ultimately be divided and annexed between them.

In short, the main differences can be spelled out thusly: Wilsonville has long planned to use the Basalt Creek area for industrial purposes; Tualatin, meanwhile, has more of a need for residential and light commercial uses, particularly given that Basalt Creek runs up against the neighborhoods of south Tualatin.

Bridging that gap is the major challenge.

Currently, Fregonese said, the planning process is divided up into five parts. The first, visioning, analysis and developing alternative scenarios is underway now. It consists of public meetings, online surveys and other forms of community outreach and will last through this summer and into fall. As alternative scenarios are developed, a preferred scenario will be chosen by staff and elected officials.

“Today is really a discussion about where things stand with constraints, what are the things we’re starting to hear from various outreach effort and what are we learning from our technical analysis,” said Leila Aman, a planning consultant with Fregonese Associates, the Portland firm hired by Tualatin to help facilitate the process.

Sometime next spring jurisdictional boundaries — in other words, new city limits for both Wilsonville and Tualatin — will be hashed. After that, a final concept plan and phasing would likely be formulated in summer 2015, with final council adoption of a concept plan set for the end of the same year.

Discussion reveals different needs

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden is shown here at a July 16 joint Wilsonville-Tualatin city council meeting to discuss the future of Basalt Creek. At the July 16 meeting, roundtable discussion between the two councils revealed a wide gulf in both needs and wants. At the same time, existing Metro plans for Basalt Creek largely coincide with those of Wilsonville: industrial development with a smattering of residential and commercial intended to serve large new businesses and their employees.

At the same time, Basalt Creek features significant geographical and environmental constraints on future development; up to a third of the area is precluded from building because of slopes, wetlands or other issues.

This led Fregonese and other consultants to draw up a map of seven significant parcels of land within Basalt Creek that represent the most developable areas.

One area in the southwest part of Basalt Creek is 90 acres in sizes. Two of the others are 55 acres, one is 45 acres and three more are roughly 25 acres each. These areas will form the core of any new development, whether industrial or commercial, according to preliminary plans.

The final concept plan will designate land uses and how they are configured; it will identify local roadway connections, including a critical East-West arterial route that will meet up with Greenhill Road and eventually cross Interstate 5. It will also identify multimodal transport networks, natural resource protections, utilities and jurisdictional boundaries.

The public is being consulted on the planning effort. But at the same time, what the public wants they public may not get. A citizen workshop held last month in Tualatin identified a strong preference for residential development in Basalt Creek. Participants were even allowed to draw up maps of the area showing how they would like to see it used. But many of those wishes, pointed out Tualatin Councilor Monique Beikman, are likely to clash with Metro plans calling for industrial development.

“I feel like the horse was already let out of the barn with this workshop,” she said. “I know my citizens in Tualatin and we have let them create these maps without the education and knowledge they needed before they created them. I’m having a hard time reconciling what we let them do and then going and saying, this is industrial so we need to do this.”

Wilsonville Councilor Scott Starr questioned aloud how future industrial and residential areas would mesh.

“I’m thinking it’s more than just a road in the middle of it,” he said.

Starr also emphasized the need to fully analyze the demand for industrial and commercial land in the south metro area as part of the process.

“What I’m looking for is what the business community wants,” he said. “ Have we talked to them? What are they saying? Is this area attractive to them? Is it industrial they’re looking for? Manufacturing? Light manufacturing? Who is looking at this as prime territory and what kinds of feedback are they giving us? That’s the type of feedback I’d like to see with these scenarios.”

From here, Fregonese Associates will continue to work with staff from both cities to develop alternative scenarios for both councils to consider. They will be put before elected officials likely in the fall prior to adoption as formal city policy on both sides.

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