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City denies Springwater development

Posted by on June 10th, 2006 at 9:34 pm

The City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) has denied the development application of Shawn Karambelas and his company, SK Northwest (PDF of the official decision).

SK’s application to build on the Willamette River became a big deal because they didn’t want to allow a trail to be built across their property, in spite of the fact that it lies on a city-designated “Greenway”, contains an unofficial City trail easement, and lies between two very popular paths; the Eastbank Esplanade and the Springwater Corridor.

The current route around this parcel jolts inland from the river through dangerous industrial traffic (including train tracks) and is not an acceptable, long-term solution.

I first posted about this nearly two months ago and have been following the story ever since.

The posts on this issue have generated 90 comments so far and many people contacted BDS directly with their concerns. On that note, here’s my favorite part of the 20-page decision mailed out by BDS yesterday.

“A total of 127 written responses have been received. Two letters are in support of the proposal.”

Read the entire document (it’s pretty interesting), on the BDS website.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share your concern with BDS.

SK Northwest has until June 23rd to appeal the decision. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything…

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Comments
  • John June 10, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    >“A total of 127 written responses have been received.
    Wow, I imagine a good % of those were from the appeal made right here on bikeportland.org.

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  • Ethan June 11, 2006 at 8:15 am

    Kudos to BikePortland.org for alerting the community about this and tracking it over the last couple of months.

    Finding that report in my mailbox yesterday put a smile on my face. I suspect that they can appeal the decision, but my review of the 12 or so pages of the report leads me to suspect that the city has been very shrewd in the way they framed their findings.

    Certainly the trail impacts and negative public sentiment are given weight, but many other salient points are also given as reasons to refuse SK’s request. Project design, classification, pollution, traffic, and habitat impacts were all cited. Additionally, the clearly inconsistent breakdown of the site’s uses (SK’s application claimed a small percentage would be retail, but other SK employees touted it’s retail potential) was noted (politely) and the City hinted that even if the project were to go forward, SK would be held responsible for dealing with (i.e. paying for) remediation of the increased traffic in the area.

    Reading between the lines . . . I think the City was essentially saying that if SK does choose to press on and appeal, their project can be made VERY expensive/difficult even without the trail easement. Hopefully it will end here . . . but I suppose it’s just a matter of how much money Shawn wants to hand over to his favorite law firm. I’m sure he’s already had to sell a few extra Sea-Doos to pay for this denial.

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  • Scout June 11, 2006 at 10:28 am

    Great job, Jonathan, getting us rabble motivated to write letters! It’s always nice to see grassroots efforts make a difference.

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  • Curt June 11, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Good job, Jonathan, bringing this story to our attention and helping the community give input where it can really make a huge difference. I hate to use cliches, but in this case, I’ll make an exception. You and BikePortland.org really do help bring “power to the people.” Thank you!

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  • Kevin June 11, 2006 at 11:58 am

    Yay … hopefully it will be a step towards having a safe transition between the Esplanade and Springwater Coridor.

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  • sh June 11, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Such great news! And, wow, a big thanks for making items like these a priority. Getting the low-down on the fun stuff is super, but enabling readers to activate en masse on the serious, more lasting issues is where Bike Portland really resonates.

    I wouldn’t have known about the necessity of speaking out if i hadn’t read about the sitch here…please keep us informed on their appeal.

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  • Tree June 11, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    Excellent work Jonathan! and thank you Ms. Green. It would’ve been awful if SK Northwest had prevailed. What nerve.

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  • Jonathan Maus June 12, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    I have updated the post with a link to the PDF of the official BDS decision on the PDOT website. It’s a 20-pager but it’s full of interesting insights.

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  • Paolo June 12, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    Good job Jonathan! Way to go.
    The other day I was riding by there and I wanted to check what it is in that area. The interesting thing is that there is already a road that follow the river from where the OMSI path ends, it is only the Ross Island part that is not done. Also if the Portland Spirit access should be a security issue, like it was stated, just try to see how easy it is to just bike to the ramp of the boat… no gate or person will stop you.
    Ciao
    Paolo

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  • John June 14, 2006 at 10:38 am

    Nice work!
    I emailed BDS after reading about this issue here.
    What never made any sense to me is why they didn’t want to support a path across their property. They are an outdoor sports company. Anyone jogging or cycling on that path would be an outdoor sportsman. They very costumers that they would want coming around.

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  • [...] SK Northest, the company that wants to develop a parcel on the Willamette River and not allow public trail access through their property, has appealed the recent denial of their development permit. [...]

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  • Jeff August 16, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    I just emailed the BDS too- in total support of the denial,

    Contact BDS: http://www.portlandonline.com/bds/index.cfm?c=37528&

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  • [...] The BTA showed up to support the City’s ruling against the development and to, “deflect some arguments put forth by the applicants.” Here’s more from Evan’s post on the BTA Blog: “The developers argued that the trail wasn’t a transportation facility, because it’s managed by Portland Parks rather than PDOT. They argued that they….weren’t impacting public access to the river and hence should not be required to improve such access. They also argued that bicyclists much prefer bike lanes to off-street paths. [...]

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  • [...] The City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) has denied the land use appeal of Shawn Karambelas. Karambelas is the business owner who wanted to develop a parcel of land just south of OMSI without including plans for public trail access on the waterfront. This decision — which was mailed out on Saturday — comes in response to an appeal filed by Karambelas and property owner Wayne Kingsley over the initial rejection of their permit back in June. [...]

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