By Dan Riker, Happy Valley
There’s a major controversy brewing in Happy Valley over a plan to build 600 luxury homes on pristine Scouters Mountain.
The proposal — the second one in a year for housing construction on the heavily wooded mountain once owned by the Boy Scouts of America — is the subject of a public hearing at Happy Valley City Hall, 16000 Misty Drive at 7 PM on Tuesday, Oct. 20. This may be your only chance to delay, or stop, approval by the Happy Valley City Council as this project has moved through the city’s approval process at lightening speed with virtually no public awareness.
The city has not made it easy for the public to have opportunities to provide comments on this huge project, which will put 600 homes in a dense development on the slopes of the beautiful natural forest and impact the wildlife of Scouters Mountain. The development application by the Holt Group is 1,343 pages with a staff report over 1,000 more. Happy Valley published the notice of a Planning Commission hearing in the newspaper on Aug. 12, one day after the deadline to submit written comments.
The Planning Commission hearing was scheduled for Sept. 8, and the City Council hearing just one week later on Sept. 15, and it appeared it would be approved, as every other Happy Valley development proposal has been for the past two years. Last year another Holt Group project in the same vicinity, Pioneer Highlands, was approved over the objections of many residents. However, if a postponement of a Planning Commission hearing is requested, it must be granted, and Happy Valley resident James Jordan requested one. The September hearings were not held.
“The process used by the city of Happy Valley to handle property development applications is broken,” wrote Jordan in a letter published in the Clackamas Review on Sept. 30. In his written comments, Jordan detailed numerous violations of planning codes and regulations, including the city’s own Comprehensive Plan, committed in the process of moving this project through the approval process apparently as quickly as possible, with as little public awareness as possible.
Opponents, who wish to have a decision on this development postponed until a much more thorough study of it is completed, point out that virtually nothing is proposed to mitigate the impacts of 450-600 new trips — or more, the numbers are hotly debated — during rush hours and the addition of hundreds of school children on an already overcrowded school system. Only one entrance to the development is provided, and it is onto the already busy two-lane winding and hilly SE 145th/147th. The homes would be built on steep slopes that already have a history of landslides. And, some residents argue, the project will spoil the Scouters Mountain Nature Park, jointly owned by Metro, Happy Valley and North Clackamas Park and Recreation District.
While written comments for the council packet were due on the 8th, you can still have your voice heard by writing the city council members and showing up to speak at the hearing on the 20th.
Update: Oct 16 – The hearing will still be opened on the 20th but will be continued until December 1st to allow the applicant to address some of the concerns raised already. You can still speak on October 20th, and also on December 1st.