Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The disappearing wetlands

Kruse Development LLC asks for and gets 4-year extension on development agreement.

The original agreement was crafted in 1999 with Clackamas County and covered development on the south side of Meadows Rd.  In 1999 the property was in the county and the county signed off on plans for building 4 large office buildings (Kruse Oaks I, II, III, and IV) three buildings were completed.  Now Kruse Development LLC

would like the original agreement with Clackamas County to be homered so they could proceed with their plans to finish their 4-part development.  

In 2005 the area west of Carmen up to the freeway was annexed into the city.  At that time the city extended the development agreement until December 31, 2014.  With the agreement set to expire at the end of the year, the developers needed to get this thing renewed.  Why?  Why not just use city development standards?  

Sensitive Lands.  

Nobody wants them.  Everyone knows what a burden they are and how they devalue private property.  Sensitive Lands regulations are a noose around property owners' necks that they didn't bargain for when they purchased their home in the trees, or the commercial property with 2 streams, 1 wetland and a tree grove on it.  

Kruse Development (KD) would like to avoid the Sensitive Lands regulations that cover a large portion of the vacant building site.  Who can blame them?  What should the city do?

The 1999 agreement with Clackamas County did not address protections for the 2 streams and  wetlands area on the site.  A surface water detention pond had been built in the middle of Meadows Creek where the native wetlands once were.  The pond receives surface water runoff from the parking lots in the development.  In pond section drawings there is no indication of any system, mechanical or biological, to clean the polluted water it receives.  Tragically, this situation has been left in place for another 4 years and will become permanent if construction is done within the agreement time frame.

Q and A:  
Wasn't there something the City Council could have done to make this situation better?   
Isn't it the job of the planning staff, that oversees all components of the Sensitive Lands program, to point out problems and suggest conditions for approval?nto the Council?  
This could have been a win-win for everyone including the public.  One idea was to require the developer, as a condition for approval of a building permit, that they restore the wetlands and create a system for filtering and cleaning storm water runoff.  Instead of a stream-fed, polluted hole in the ground, this site could have been so much more.  Perhaps there is an opportunity to amend the agreement or maybe KD will be environmentally sensitive and remediate the wetland and streams on their own.  

Where was the planning staff in all of this?  If this was a homeowner trying to deal with restrictions on their land, staff would be all over them, and there are plenty of examples to prove this.  People who own large tracts with trees and/or wetlands have no opportunity for reasonable development or compromise.  The City Council approved another round of changes to the Sensitive Lands program last night, and though some very bad rules have been lightened, the quantity and minutia of regulations are astounding. KD could never have developed under these guidelines.  The trees and water may be the same from property to property, but how property owners are treated is far from equal.
What will Metro say about removing Sensitive Lands from the Meadows Rd. property, either on the map or by development?  Will the designation be left in place for show while the development follows different rules?  Hmmm.  Can homeowners do this too?  You know - have SL regulations on their land, and then ignore them with the city's blessing?
Why not?
Money and power.  Big developers with land use attorneys and other resources can fight city hall more effectively than a single homeowner.  And as a commenter pointed out, the developer of a large office building will bring in more in taxes than a lowly homeowner. Who should City Hall put first?

Your answer here: ___________________________________________________________
Your comments on this blog are always welcome!  

1 comment:

  1. Did you forget the great motivator MORE TAXES to spend?