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Compromise nears in Stafford

Residents can weigh in on long-range planning at two meetings


by: REVIEW FILE - Residents of Stafford can weigh in on maps illustrating a vision for the roughly 4,000-acre area's future at two upcoming meetings.If you live in the Stafford area, now is the time to weigh in on almost a year’s worth of planning to map what residents think their neighborhoods should look like in the future.

The Stafford Hamlet has scheduled back-to-back meetings over the next week to hear residents’ input on a grassroots effort to build off a past visioning process and show what that plan might look like on the ground.

Leading the Stafford planning committee’s efforts is Molly Ellis, a hamlet board member since 2006, when residents voted to become a hamlet and thus have a larger role in county and regional planning efforts. Stafford sits between Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn.

Ellis said all 10 neighborhoods in the 4,000-acre area have met over the past year to weigh in on how they think Stafford should look in the future. In addition, surveys soliciting additional information were mailed to every hamlet household, and additional surveys will be available at the upcoming meetings.

The past meetings have involved both conservationists — those who want the bucolic area to remain largely rural in nature — and developers, including residents with large tracts of land they’d like to convert from farming or similar uses to residential or commercial areas.

While Ellis doesn’t expect everyone to be 100 percent satisfied with the resulting maps, she said she has been impressed with how people representing sometimes competing interests have found common ground.

“People have worked very hard; it has been quite an inspiration to me,” she said. “Most people in the hamlet have lived here perhaps 40 years. ... They care very deeply about the future, and I just hope that their efforts can be respected and be useful ... down the road.”

She’s hoping people who haven’t had time to come to previous meetings will make it to one of the upcoming sessions. That’s why organizers have scheduled two: to make sure residents have a weekend option as well as an opportunity on a weekday evening.

The idea is to give residents a final chance to weigh in on the work completed so far, she said: “What do you like about what we have here on our neighborhood maps of what we envision happening in the future in our neighborhoods? What do you not like? Will you check that we have represented you accurately?”

Eventually, they will then be able to vote on a final version of the plan — likely in December.by: VERN UYETAKE - In this file photo, Stafford Hamlet Chairman Mike Miller stands in Stafford, an unincorporated area in Clackamas County between Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn. Miller is considered a small-property owner in the area but helps manage much larger properties and offers tractor work in the area, long looked at for urban development to handle regional growth.

Ellis said the meeting will showcase two different maps — one showing conservationists’ preferences and the other highlighting developers’ ideas — that she hopes can be reconciled into one. A third map will illustrate which residents support some general growth, although that map is a “little deceptive,” Ellis said, because residents likely have different definitions of how dense such development might be.

“Quite a few people, a surprising number, said they would like a change in zoning,” Ellis said, “but not 12 units per acre.

“At the most, all of the developers we’ve talked to have said maybe four units per acre, except for the outlying Borland area, where they hope to develop a mixed-use area with retail.”

The plan could play an important role if Stafford is one day brought inside the regional urban growth boundary.

After more than a decade of friction over potential urbanization, landowners united at the start of the year to push for planning the area’s future development. The idea is to be proactive in informing Clackamas County, surrounding cities and Metro, the regional government, what residents actually hope to see in terms of long-range development, whether that happens in 10 years or three decades from today.

That was an important step for the hamlet, organizers said. While residents overwhelmingly approved a unified vision for the area in 2008, they didn’t necessarily agree on how to go about achieving it until now.

“We know all of this is a long way out, but we’re trying to work together, to come together, both conservationists and developers, with a plan we can all sort of accept and ratify by vote later — so we can speak with one voice at the table for the hamlet,” Ellis said.

Exactly what might happen or when remains up in the air.

While Metro has designated Stafford and the Borland area as an urban reserve, putting the entire area of rolling hills and woodlands in line for future urban development, that decision remains entangled in an appeals process in state courts. Tualatin and West Linn have protested the designation.

“I think it’s very important to make this transparent and to work with one another and to have a voice as a hamlet and not have this planning done to us,” Ellis said. “We know where the horse trails are, and where the wildlife that are threatened live, and if we don’t speak up, who will?”

Town hall meetings on tap

Stafford residents are invited to two town hall meetings to verify neighborhood maps and preferences, provide input, ask questions of expert panelists from the county and Metro and contribute other ideas related to the community’s future.

At the meetings, residents will begin at neighborhood-based tables to review information already contributed and how it looks on maps. Organizers will then show a presentation on the plans and take input. An open discussion will follow the presentation.

The meetings are scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 12 and for 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 14. Both will take place in the commons at Stafford Primary School, 19875 SW Stafford Road in West Linn.

For more information, contact Molly Ellis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit staffordhamlet.com.




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