Councilors hope to find a happy medium between environmental preservation, commercial space and road connectivity.
Just outside Beaverton’s southwestern city limits lies 1,200 acres of unincorporated Washington County that Beaverton city leaders hope will support future growth, including more housing, commercial areas roads parks and trails.
Not to be mistaken with South Cooper Mountain — where development is in process — the Cooper Mountain Community Plan is a multi-year effort to envision new neighborhoods in the Cooper Mountain area, which was recently added to Metro’s urban growth boundary.
The Beaverton City Council is in the process of choosing a neighborhood plan that is intended to incorporate wildlife, affordable middle housing — such as townhouses, duplexes and cottage clusters — and commercial space. Once a plan is adopted, annexation and development are slated to take place in 2024.
Councilors are exploring three neighborhood scenarios. "Scenario A" would contain one center with a small concentration of areas zoned for commercial use with multi-family housing and open space nearby. It would provide a total of 3,760 dwellings, the minimum required by Metro.
Of all three scenarios, this one would have the largest number of road connections, with active transportation and connectivity for people walking, biking or using mobility devices.
The natural resource protection would be consistent with the city’s current standards and is similar to South Cooper Mountain in development form and character, although more middle housing will be allowed.
"Scenario B" would include two neighborhood centers with 5,000 dwellings and more opportunities for commercial development as well as more housing variety than Scenario A.
Like Scenario A, Scenario B will incorporate natural resource protections consistent with the city’s current standards.
"Scenario C" focuses the most on protecting natural resources. This neighborhood plan would have two centers and include 6,000 dwellings. The downside to this plan is that it has the least neighborhood connectivity for motorized vehicles.
Councilors during a work session on Tuesday. Dec. 7, weren’t united on any one scenario in particular. Some said they’d like to see more options.
Mayor Lacey Beaty said her first instinct was to go with Scenario C, the plan that prioritized preserving natural resources. But upon further observation, she noted that the opportunities for more commercial development in Scenario B will be crucial for supporting much of the anticipated growth in the area.
"There are a lot of people moving in here," she said. "And there still doesn’t exist a lot of grocery stores — we’re creating food deserts. What we’ve learned during COVID is having places you’re able to deliver in your range is really important, and all these houses would be out of range for delivery for a lot of places that exist along Murray (Boulevard) and Scholls Ferry (Road)."
Councilor Laura Mitchell was more partial to Scenario A because it would be better served by roads.
"The reason I’m supportive of that is because we don’t have a lot of alternative transportation up there," she said. "We don’t have a lot of bus routes. We don’t have a lot of those options. Hopefully we could invite some of that so we don’t have as many people out on the road."
Councilor Marc San Soucie also expressed that he’d like to see more roads than what Scenario C offers to ease traffic congestion. He also threw out a "slightly facetious" recommendation of just zoning the whole area "mixed residential-commercial" and "see what the marketplace decides."
"We’ve seen around Beaverton there are a whole bunch of different types of developments that people have constructed, and they all seem to be doing OK," he said.
Councilor Ashley Hartmeier-Prigg, meanwhile, liked the balance of ample housing and natural resource preservation presented in Scenario C.
"I’ve been reading a lot about how actually building roads doesn’t ease congestion and widening roads doesn’t ease congestion," she said. "And so I think that the lesser of the big roads actually might encourage more biking and pedestrian rolling and other ways of getting around."
Councilor Nadia Hasan said she would like city staff to clearly lay out the benefits and trade-offs of each of the scenarios as they do community outreach.
"We don’t always do that sometimes, but I do think it helps us make more informed decisions," she said.
The next community advisory meeting will be on Thursday, Jan. 27. Visit www.beavertonoregon.gov/2296/Cooper-Mountain-Community-Plan to learn how to get involved in the process.
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