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Formerly the home of Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth, the Portland Land Matters blog explores citywide land-use concerns, such as home demolitions, with the belief that development should create an improvement.

Friday, January 10, 2014

You could start with a chain saw

Is this where developer Wally Remmers gets everything he wants? To appropriate another law-dodger Ms. Helmsley, Is code conformance only for the little people?

The state Land Use Board of Appeals specifically ruled in its remand of Wally Remmers's permit for his 4-story 50-unit project on Northeast Fremont that the "city will need to require that the drywell be relocated" so that its location conforms with code.

Technical documents related to Remmers's appeal for that drywell indicate that the "drywell was installed 6'-1" from the new building foundation instead of the required 10'." However, if the building envelope was trimmed back nearly 4 feet, it would bring the location of the current drywell into compliance. It also would reduce the scale of the building and give building residents and abutting neighbors open space and breathing room, which will become especially important in the city's headlong quest for density.

Neighbors long suspected the project was too big for its site; still you see people stopping in front of it to scratch their heads as incredulity spreads across their faces ("How was this allowed?" they sometimes ask outright.) Let's embrace this chance to make the building smaller, reduce its various impacts, and literally fit just a bit better into the neighborhood.

Either way, the LUBA ruling must be satisfied, right? Secret meetings and special treatment for certain developers isn't how a well-run city works. Notice how these facts are glossed over in the official word from the city. City code would have given us a smaller building, and neighbors would see a decrease in the expected unmitigated, outsize impacts of the development, from parking to traffic safety and emergency response, important for a swath of east-side Portlanders.

Let the folks at right know how you feel about exceptions made for a developer exploiting the very neighborhood in which he chose to invest. Ask them why Northeast Portlanders suddenly have to pay an unfair price for one guy who didn't—and still won't—follow the rules.

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