New homes likely coming to east Tualatin
City Council upholds administrative approval of Sagert Farm subdivision plans.
This story has been updated from its original version.
Plans to construct a new subdivision with as many as 79 residential lots at the corner of Southwest 65th Avenue and Sagert Street can go forward, following the result of a public hearing in Tualatin Monday.
The Sagert Farm subdivision, covering some 21 acres in east Tualatin, was originally approved by city staff last month. But representatives of a neighboring business complex lodged an appeal, saying the developer's plans would limit access to its parking lots north of Sagert Street. The Tualatin City Council voted Monday to reject that argument in favor of allowing the subdivision to proceed.
The Tualatin Professional Center obtained permission to build a driveway off Sagert Street back in 1983. But Jeff Fuchs, Tualatin's city engineer, told the council that permission was temporary, expiring in 1989, and was never intended to impede the future extension of Sagert Street.
Changes coming to Sagert Street
Development of the Sagert Farm subdivision would include Sagert Street's extension from 65th Avenue east to the Sequoia Ridge neighborhood. The street does not currently go through. It would also add a traffic signal at the intersection of 65th Avenue and Sagert Street. As a result, left turns in and out of one of the revised driveways off Sagert Street will be blocked by a median, Fuchs said.
TPC representatives suggested that a single access point serving both its west and east parking lots, which are not otherwise connected, could be maintained if the Sagert Street extension was reengineered to accommodate it. But Fuchs said that would eliminate a westbound bike lane on the street, in between the new subdivision and Atfalati Park west of 65th Avenue.
That is a concern for staff, he said.
Dean Alterman, a Portland attorney who represented the business condominium owners' association at the hearing, said the TPC objected only to the access problems he said the plan city staff approved last month would create for the business complex, not to the development itself.
Exhibit 2 is a solution to the specific and only problem that we have identified with the proposal, Alterman said, referring to the alternative driveway proposal.
But Matt Hughart, a planner with Kittelson & Associates, Inc., who assisted developer Lennar Homes with the application, defended the plan. He noted that the TPC will still have two driveways off Southwest Borland Road, across from the Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center campus, as well as two driveways off Sagert Street.
From a regional circulation perspective, there are plenty of ways to access the site, Hughart said. Not every one of them are absolutely ideal, but I think there are alternatives.
Council leery of 'can of worms'
City councilors sided with the applicants and voted to uphold the city's earlier conditional approval of the development plans.
The plan is not going to be perfect for everyone, said Councilor Frank Bubenik. We've just got to make it so it works for everyone.
Bubenik suggested that siding with TPC would open a can of worms and violate city code by allowing the unorthodox driveway while eliminating a bike lane.
Councilor Nancy Grimes cited the axiom no good deed goes unpunished, referring to the city's 1983 decision to allow the temporary driveway into both TPC parking lots from Sagert Street.
It's kind of a shame that that happened in the first place, because I think in the end, it hampered their cause more than it probably helped it, Grimes said, suggesting the complex would have been forced long ago to reconfigure its parking situation internally if the city had not permitted the driveway.
Asked after the hearing whether an appeal to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals is possible, Alterman said he expects the issue to be addressed at a TPC board meeting on Friday. Under Oregon law, land use decisions can be appealed to LUBA, which is based in Salem.
Fuchs, the city engineer, said he is not sure how long it has been since a new subdivision the size of Sagert Farm was approved in Tualatin, but he said, It's been a long time.
I think construction's been kind of taking off in Tualatin for the past year, both residential and commercial, he added.
Several more applications to build smaller subdivisions in Tualatin are at various stages of completion, Fuchs said.
The area where Sagert Farm will be built is already zoned for low-density residential use, according to a community plan map published by the city.
Other concerns, responses heard
The TPC owners' association filed the appeal heard Monday, but others at the City Council meeting expressed some concerns about other aspects of the Sagert Farm development.
Nicole Graves, who lives south of Interstate 205 and the planned subdivision, said 65th Avenue is already frequently choked with traffic.
I feel like it's your responsibility to address the current traffic issue, Graves said.
Hughart, the project consultant, noted that the project includes improvements to the 65th Avenue and Sagert Street intersection, including a traffic signal coordinated with the existing signal at 65th Avenue and Borland Road just to the north.
These two signals are going to function as one intersection, basically, he said, adding that the way it is being designed, You're not going to get released at one intersection only to get stopped at the next intersection. There's going to be sort of a progression of traffic. So we've modeled it, we've looked at it, we feel that it's going to be a pretty significant improvement well beyond what people see out there today.
Hughart also said a traffic study forecasts intersections in the area to remain at the same level of service a term used by traffic engineers to define how much of a delay, if any, motorists will face in getting through an intersection even after the new homes are built.
Bob Nelson, who lives in the Sequoia Ridge neighborhood just west of the planned Sagert Farm subdivision, said he wants to be sure large sequoia trees like one on his property he estimated at about 100 feet tall are adequately protected during construction.
I'm just asking that the tree protection fencing goes around the drip lines of every tree and that, if it's necessary to encroach on one of these drip lines, that that necessity is communicated to the city, he said.
Andrew Tull, a planner with 3J Consulting, Inc., said staff already attached conditions regarding tree retention to their approval of the plan last month. An arborist will be present to supervise construction work, he added.
According to Fuchs, the city engineer, the development plan protects existing sequoia trees.
The removal of large trees to make way for construction has been a hot-button issue lately in the Portland area. In one high-profile instance last September, protesters climbed sequoias in Portland's Eastmoreland neighborhood that were slated to be cut down before reaching a deal with the developer to allow the stand to be preserved.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the first name of the attorney representing the appellant. His name is Dean Alterman. The story has been corrected.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT