There is More to North Bethany Than Meets the Oregonian’s Eye

Release date: 11/20/2012
Sponsored by: Board of Commissioners

North Bethany Development Process

The 691-acre North Bethany area, and adjacent 109-acre Arbor Oaks subdivision, are helping Washington County achieve a regional goal—much-needed housing at a variety of price points. The process was complicated, but we have much to be proud of as North Bethany moves to construction. Unfortunately, three critical points were unclear from the Oregonian's recent coverage ("Homebuilder gets big boost" and "County quietly funds road for developer," Oct. 26, 2012).

First, the coverage did not make clear that Arbor Oaks and North Bethany needed to be handled differently. Metro first brought Arbor Oaks inside the region's urban growth boundary in 1999; the North Bethany area followed three years later. Land use approvals for Arbor Oaks occurred in 2005, and development of Arbor Oaks commenced in 2006. Planning for North Bethany was just then beginning. Retroactively applying North Bethany's planning rules and funding strategy to Arbor Oaks would have been unfair and brought strong legal challenges.

Second, the Oregonian story failed to note that the county held (beginning in 2006) 45 stakeholder work group meetings and nine open houses. The hundreds of citizens that participated in these events helped shape the vision for North Bethany.

And finally, the stories did not make clear how major roads for North Bethany (future home for nearly 10,000 residents) will be financed. Road funding will come from a number of sources including: system development charges paid by North Bethany homebuilders; property taxes paid by North Bethany landowners through a recently voter-approved North Bethany County Service District for Roads; and Washington County's Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP).

Road P-15 is a key access point for likely initial development in North Bethany. The county has loaned funds to the North Bethany County Service District to kick-start construction of P-15. The loan will be repaid by the county service district as North Bethany development and the service district begin to generate revenue from increased property taxes. The people who directly benefit from P-15 will be paying for it. 

The board of commissioners extended that loan because the board believes the county has a duty to enable development in areas the region put inside the urban growth boundary 10 years earlier. Development can thus begin where we collectively planned for it–where we think growth can best be located. That growth in turn lessens growth pressure in less suitable areas.

The P-15 road loan was discussed at three public forums: a lengthy board work session; a public hearing of the Washington County Budget Committee (comprised of county commissioners and citizens); and a public board meeting where the loan agreement was unanimously approved.

The board of commissioners is confident North Bethany will become a vibrant community. Its development coincides with promising signs of economic recovery including Intel's recent announcement of significant expansions. This and other business investments are going to provide a high demand for housing in Washington County. North Bethany is becoming a reality just in time, and we are grateful to all who participated in the process to make it happen.

Chairman Andy Duyck
Commissioner Greg Malinowski
Commissioner Roy Rogers
Commissioner Dick Schouten
Commissioner Bob Terry

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