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Cedar Mill News
Volume 3, Issue 1


January 2005

What the heck is a Town Center anyway?

…and how do we get there from here?

By Virginia Bruce, editor

The Cedar Mill Town Center is one of 12 town centers established (mostly on paper at this point) in Washington County. On the Washington County website, a town center is defined as “a compact area with a mix of retail, office and commercial activity and housing that serves as a hub of community activity. Easily accessible by area residents, it provides a gateway to other centers via transit. Town centers are convenient for people who are on bicycles or on foot. If you drive there, you are able to walk between destinations. Town Centers are logical places for compact housing development because of their nearness to transit, shopping and employment. They often offer community services such as libraries and civic offices, and act as social gathering places where people take advantage of cultural and recreational activities.”

According to Andy Back, Washington County Senior Planner, the goals of a Town Center include, “creating a better sense of community, encouraging higher density housing and mixed use." [Think Pearl District.]

The roadwork that has been oh-so-obvious to all of us over these past months is only the first step in creating our Town Center. But it is basically the only step that the county is funding at this time. The rest of the Town Center development is up to us.

The Town Center ordinance (Ordinance 635, see www.co.washington.or.us/deptmts/ lut/2040/planning.htm) contains guidelines for new development. Until a piece of property is developed, or re-developed, nothing will change. When development is proposed it must meet these guidelines.

From the ordinance, regarding both sides of Cornell: As properties in the area develop or redevelop, the new development shall be designed to encourage walking, bicycling and transit use in the area. …buildings shall be located to front on adjacent pedestrian streets, and designed to present front facades with a significant percentage of window space. Building entries shall be oriented to the adjacent pedestrian street if on-street parking is allowed in front of the building.

Picture 23rd Avenue or Hawthorne superimposed on Cornell Road. It’s an exciting concept, but it simply won’t happen without considerable vision on the part of developers. To help stimulate that vision, some of us in Cedar Mill are proposing a historical theme for the Town Center reflecting our rich pioneer history. County planners can impose design restrictions on development to achieve this vision if there is support from the community.

Change is inevitable. It can be a good thing if those affected lead the way in deciding what that change will look like. We have a chance to create a unique community that would be a destination for area residents and tourists alike. Contact me if you’re interested in exploring these ideas; vrb@teamweb.com or 503-629-5799.

To learn more about the Town Centers of Washington County, visit the county's website at www.co.washington.or.us/deptmts/lut/planning/docs/cedar/cmp.htm



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The Cedar Mill News
Published monthly by the Cedar Mill Business Association, Inc.,
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Portland, OR 97291-0177

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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229