As part of the application process for its proposal to change the use of Moreland Woods, Foundation Partners Group is required to present their plan at a public meeting. Although this presentation was originally planned as part of this week’s SMILE meeting, FPG has requested additional time to prepare. That’s fine with us. At the January 23 public meeting, it was clear that FPG’s plan still contained many unanswered questions. The new meeting meeting is to be held Wednesday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. Please plan to attend. We want to make it clear to FPG that Sellwood-Moreland residents pay close attention to local issues of protection for trees and wildlife and the preservation of our neighborhood’s natural resources. You can read the details of FPG’s proposal for Moreland Woods here.
Last week, Friends of Moreland Woods hosted a meeting to gauge the neighborhood’s response to the proposed new plan for Moreland Woods. More than 40 people showed up. We began by presenting a series of slides outlining what we knew of the details. Next, Read Stapleton, a planner with the civil engineering firm hired by FPG — Wilhelm’s new owners — answered questions. There were a lot of them. Although not everyone had a strong opinion, it became clear that most folks in attendance were generally quite skeptical of FPG’s proposal. An unofficial show of hands indicated strong resistance to the plan to sell the existing parking lot, strong resistance to the plan to build a new 23-space parking lot on Moreland Woods, and strong resistance to the plan to use the Woods as a cemetery. Folks were generally supportive of FPG’s offer to create a public trail through Moreland Woods that would provide access to the bluff and, if feasible in the future, a potential trail or overlook into Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. At the end of the meeting, we gave everyone the chance to officially express their opinions on paper.
In October, Foundation Partners Group (FPG), the Florida-based company that owns Moreland Woods, informed us that they were not planning to sell the Woods at this time; they also provided us with a plan outlining a significant redesign of the site. These changes require a land-use change that will follow a Type III Conditional Use review process. At a pre-application conference at the Bureau of Development Services on October 24, FPG revealed more details about the plan. You can review their application outline here. Friends of Moreland Woods attended the pre-application conference, which was not a public hearing but a standard process to provide city officials with information on the proposed changes. Here’s a summary of what we learned: 1. FPG proposes reducing their conditional use boundary to exclude the existing parking lot on the east side of SE 14th Avenue, which would be sold or developed at a future date under the existing residential zoning conditions. The owners also propose the addition of a new, 23-space parking lot, located on Moreland Woods, which would command approximately one-fifth of the property. (click here to view a larger version of the site development plan below.) 2. In addition, FPG proposes developing Moreland Woods as a cemetery Read More…
Last Friday’s meeting at Commissioner Fish’s office was a success! Because of your support, we were able to deliver 230 signed postcards to the Commissioner’s staff — AND to clearly convey our goals for protecting Moreland Woods. Thank you! At the meeting, we learned that Moreland Woods could help address a gap in Portland Park’s goals for park access in the neighborhood. In 2001, recognizing that parks are a core city service offering places to play, exercise, meet neighbors, and enjoy nature, Portland City Council approved a plan to ensure that every resident is within a half-mile walk of a park or natural area by 2020. We’re less than two years away from 2020, yet a current reference map indicates a strip of Sellwood-Moreland remains “park deficient” and would directly benefit from access to Oaks Bottom — access that Moreland Woods could provide. (Click to zoom detail at left.) There’s still more to learn, and trail feasibility needs to be fully evaluated by professionals. But Commissioner Fish’s office expressed a commitment to help us explore acquisition and trail improvement options within the city’s various agencies, and we’re extremely grateful to them.
We continue to maintain an open line of communication with the property owners. Recognizing our interest in maintaining the Woods’ mature trees and open space, Foundation Partners recently put forward a conceptual plan that would keep the property in their ownership while maintaining most of the existing trees — and finding alternative uses for the site that align with the mausoleum’s business plan. Right now, their new proposal is more concept than details; its feasibility will be evaluated by the city during a pre-application conference on October 24. Our group plans to attend this meeting, to learn more about the new proposal, and to meet with Foundation Partners later in the week.
State Representative Karin Power represents Oregon’s 41st district, which covers parts of Clackamas and Multnomah Counties, including Milwaukie, Oak Grove, and parts of southeast Portland. She visited Moreland Woods last year and continues to support our efforts to preserve and protect this important natural space. In addition, we recently learned that Rep. Power plans to advocate for Moreland Woods in her meetings with city officials, including Mayor Wheeler. We’re grateful for her ongoing support!
We’re excited to report that our Moreland Woods survey generated 444 responses, and the input we received was pretty consistent. Most respondents were adamant in their desire to preserve the more than 20 mature Douglas Fir trees on the site, no matter what else might happen there. Eighty-six percent said they want to protect the trees and maintain the Woods as open space. According to one: “As our neighborhood is developed with condos, lofts, apartments, and large homes, Moreland Woods presents an opportunity to take a calming walk, catch your breath, and enjoy the views.” Respondents were most interested in the Woods’ use as an outdoor classroom for nature activities; fairly interested in its use for the Moreland Farmers Market and as an expansion for Llewellyn School; and mixed in their views about its use as a dog park. Most supported adding seating, picnic tables, and a trail to connect the Woods to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge below. To the statement “If Moreland Woods was kept as open space, my greatest concern would be…,” they responded: Camping 37.6% I do not have any concerns 31.1% Maintenance costs 12.4% Public safety 9% Other 5.4% Parking 2% Impact of use on neighbors 1.4% Read More…