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Wizer: It's time to shake hands and move forward

In the interests of full disclosure, let me say two things: One, I am a golfer; two, there are aspects of the proposed Wizer development that I do not like.

You may be scratching your head and wondering what on Earth one has to do with other. But bear with me and read to the end!

The citizens of Lake Oswego and their elected officials have rarely avoided issues that must be faced and solved. (A few years on the planning commission and eight years on the school board taught me that.) They have not buried their heads in the sand just because there was no easy way forward or no immediate consensus.

For the most part, our citizens engage and our city leaders listen and make informed decisions on tough issues. That was no different with the Wizer project.

From the beginning (and the very beginning goes back a number of years), the redevelopment of the Wizer Block was not going to be easy. No land use development in Lake Oswego is easy. Lake View Village, which most of us now cannot imagine a life without, was not easy either.

This democracy of ours allows for free debate, and Oswegans are passionate in debate and expression. I, too, was outspoken and energetically voiced my concerns about the proposed Wizer Block development. But this democracy of ours has a framework within which our citizen elected officials must make their decisions. So while I as a citizen may not be 100 percent in favor of the Wizer project, I must look objectively at the framework of the recent City Council decision and decide whether or not it was well reasoned.

As a lawyer, I have to conclude that the Council’s decisive judgment to overturn the decision of the Development Review Commission was sound, balanced and justified. The framework in which the Council had to make its decision was our city code. Our code is a rule of law, and the Lake Oswego City Council had an obligation to objectively and plausibly interpret that law or code. In my opinion, it is clear that this development complies with the code.

As a citizen, I may still not like some aspects of the development, but I have had my say and I cannot objectively look at the Council’s decision and say it was wrong. It was not.

So now back to where I started — golf! Champion golfer Payne Stewart famously said that, “In the end, it’s still a game of golf, and if at the end of the day you can’t shake hands with your opponent and still be friends, then you’ve missed the point.” As a community, we have debated the Wizer project ad nauseam. We now have a decision from our local elected officials to which I defer. I am against an appeal of that decision.

I am against making this an issue that should elect or defeat city councilors. This is not an issue which should form the reputation of Lake Oswego. In the end, a majority of the City Council presented the facts and came to a conclusion about a code and a building. I repeat — about a building!

It is time to shake hands and be friends. My guess is that opponents and supporters of Wizer will find themselves working together on far more important issues and challenges. Or playing golf together.

Jonathan Harnish is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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