A number of issues brought a wide number of local residents to our May 1st meeting. A few were settled and a couple remain open at this writing. Here’s a list – read on for details:
- Razor wire at Ainsworth Market Building (NE 31st & Ainsworth)
- Development at Rosa Parks Way and NE 31st
- Four-plex at NE 31st and Killingsworth
- Tree preservation
Detail at the link below:
Razor wire at Ainsworth Market Building
One issue that close-by residents brought up was the fencing with razor-type wire atop the Ainsworth Market building at NE 31st and Ainsworth. VTM Inc. has been concerned about the security of its building as it gains more tenants, especially since the low-level roof is easily accessible. Residents considered the fencing to be unsightly and gives the wrong public impression.
A compromise was worked out between the Land Use Chair, reps from VTM, Inc, and Denny Stoecklin, CFO of Concordia University (CU), the building’s newest tenant. It was agreed that security cameras that also trigger night lights could provide the needed security concerns. CU’s experience with that system, for example, has reduced car prowls on its campus 90%. Plus CU’s security personnel will make the facility part of its 24 hour security patrolling. It was an issue of perception that was quickly resolved when the parties involved got together.
VTM Inc. is owned by the Richard Baek family who purchased the store, originally an IGA market, in 1988. Several of the family’s members worked in the store in those days and were known by a large number of neighbors. By 2006 that commercial corner had gone into decline with the closure of the Ainsworth Drugstore across the street, and the building had trouble retaining tenants that appealed to neighborhood walk-in traffic.
In January of 2007, at a neighborhood meeting attended by the owners of the four corners buildings and 50 neighbors, it was revealed that part of the building was used for storage. At the meeting VTM’s rep committed his company to remodel and to market the structure for resident-friendly businesses. The Ainsworth Market, with new managers, was moved and remodeled, a pizza parlor, which hired local people, opened, but unfortunately, didn’t survive, and most recently Concordia University opened its bookstore in the Ainsworth end of the building which will soon be repainted, with an added mural.
Development at Rosa Parks Way and NE 31st
A second issue involved lots to be developed at Rosa Parks Way and NE 31st. Notice from the City to neighbors within 150 feet of the lots was confusing and there were fears of several tall skinny houses. Once the City and developers confirmed what their plans were, fears were eased. Three small lots will become two larger lots and a new Craftsman-style home will be built facing Rosa Parks, twice the span of a skinny house.
Four-plex at NE 31st and Killingsworth
Another major item of general approval was submitted by local resident Marlon Basel, who plans to build a four-plex at NE 31st and Killingsworth, a lot that was originally planned for development by Ryan Olson Co., which went bankrupt. He is asking for larger footprints for his homes, off-street courtyard entrances and parking, among other elements. Neighbors didn’t object to his contemporary design saying that the street already has “eclectic” structures and that the new building is a good transition between business and residents. Neighbors also appreciate that Marlon had contacted most of them, explaining his project, door-to-door.
The majority of the meeting discussed a skinny lot north of 6130 NE 32nd. The owner asks that he be allowed to build an 18 foot-wide home on a lot 25 feet wide. City code says there must be five feet on each side of the home which would result in a much narrower house. Builder/developer George Crawford believes that a wider home with many windows, a front porch, and no garage in front is preferable and is why he’s asking for a change. The next door neighbor, who would have only nine feet between the two homes, led the opposition to that aspect. Neighbors also asked that the front of the home be recessed to match the rest of the homes on the block.
The real opposition to the plans was that it would lead to the removal of a 100 year-old fir tree, 11 feet in circumference. Neighbors objected to the continued degeneration of the tree canopy in residential neighborhoods, especially on 2500 square foot lots – which all seem to be stripped of all original trees. This tree is near the front of the lot, which would make it difficult to build anything but a fairly small house.
Three problems present themselves to the neighbors who want to save the tree. There is very little tree regulation on private property. (A City committee is working on that now with little reportable success.) Oregon allows a property owner to build on his/her property with relatively few restrictions. The tree issue is not part of the request to the City by the builder so residents’ concerns could be rejected out of hand.
Those in attendance are organized to save the tree under the ad hoc sub-committee leadership of Ken Forcier, and three groups have been formed to approach the parties involved to see what could be negotiated: one to meet with the owner, one to meet with the City’s Land Use supervisor in charge of this proposal, and one to meet with two City councilmen (Randy Leonard who is in charge of the building permit process, and Dan Saltzman, who heads the tree-review efforts). Results and decisions are not clear as we go to press.
On a related tree issue, this one on NE 37th near Fernhill Park. The developer, Randy Palazzo, agreed to preserve the trees an the rear of two lots he’s building, plus move one of the homes back ten feet to accommodate a large front tree. These lots are much larger than the skinny ones so adjustments are somewhat easier to negotiate.
The combined land use and livability committees meet the first Thursday of each month at 7:15 P.M. We obviously have a lot of issues and we could use a lot of help.