West Linn residents: Too much traffic for 34 new homes

Neighbors have until July 19 to file an appeal over city council decision

Traffic in West Linn at a spot where development is planned, July 14, 2017 (KOIN)
Traffic in West Linn at a spot where development is planned, July 14, 2017 (KOIN)

WEST LINN, (Ore.) — Neighbors in West Linn are crying foul after the city council approved a new development that neighbors say will increase existing traffic and safety problems.

The area is right on the border between Lake Oswego and West Linn, and residents say the intersection of Arbor Road and Hwy 43 is already unsafe. Adding 34 more homes, they say, will just make it worse.

Jessica Harra’s home butts up against the 6-acre lot where development would go. She and other neighbors, like Chris Harris, believe the city council should have never approved the developer’s application.

“The problem is the amount of traffic coming through the neighborhood,” Harris told KOIN 6 News.

Residents say the application uses flawed traffic reports done by the developer’s own representatives that fails to note and mitigate what is already a hazardous layout of streets and infrastructure.

“Just the (way the) city handled the whole process we think was pretty flawed,” Harra said.

Jessica Harra and Chris Harris are West Linn neighbors opposing a new development, July 14, 2017 (KOIN)
Jessica Harra and Chris Harris are West Linn neighbors opposing a new development, July 14, 2017 (KOIN)

Harra paid for neighbors’ own traffic study, which refutes what the developers say. It finds the developer’s application fails to provide substantial evidence, or ins some cases any evidence at all, to support the conclusion the developer is in compliance with transportation-related requirements.

The West Linn City Council initially agreed when they denied the application last year. Prior to that vote in August of 2016, the planning commission rejected the developer’s initial application.

“All of the members of the council completely agreed that the traffic infrastructure was a fundamental problem,” Mayor Russ Axelrod said.

That initial  rejection of the plan by city council led the developer to propose submitting an application for an Expedited Land Development. Axelrod told KOIN 6 that was a concern for several reasons. “It greatly limits the public involvement in the process, it completely eliminates the city council from any/all decision making, and it presents further risk to the community by not ensuring conditions being placed on the project for things like safety,” he said.

Axelrod told KOIN 6 News the neighbors’ traffic study, submitted this year, was entered as evidence too late to be part of the official record. “It needed to have been introduced to the planning commission and should have been vetted at the planning commission in order for it to be considered later in the appeal.”

Legally, he says, the developer met all the criteria for approval.

“I share the sentiment of the community,” the mayor said. “I wish we could do something but we’re restricted to what we can do according to state land use laws and regulations.”

Neighbors have until July 19 to file an appeal and they told KOIN 6 News they will do that early next week.