After hearing an appeal from nearby residents, the Lake Oswego City Council unanimously voted Tuesday, March 7, to tentatively affirm the Development Review Board’s approval for the Lake Oswego School District to build a bus barn near homes in the Rosewood neighborhood.
The school district plans to build a 2.4-acre facility at 6333 S Lakeview Boulevard that would house 66 school buses starting in 2024. The current site, the district says, is too small, does not comply with current zoning standards and is infeasible for the addition of electrification infrastructure for the fleet. The district purchased the property in 2018 for $3.25 million.
However, neighbors have said that the local transportation network is inadequate, with narrow streets and pockets that have no sidewalks. Further, they worried that the buses would be delayed by trains traveling on nearby tracks.
The DRC denied a similar school district proposal in 2019 but approved the more recent one — with conditions including a couple that clarify transportation routes — leading the Rosewood Neighborhood Association to appeal the decision to the City Council. Commissioners also recommended that the city make infrastructure improvements in the area.
In its appeal, the neighborhood said that the proposed use would lead to intense traffic impacts at intervals during the school day, as well as unlawful amounts of noise. It further posited that the local infrastructure was insufficient.
City councilors felt that the commission and staff did their job in determining that the proposed facility should go forward.
“I didn’t see anything from a code perspective that would allow us not to support this request,” City Councilor Rachel Verdick said.
Councilor Ali Afghan said he sympathizes with neighbors who have to deal with many buses traveling local streets during the school year, and remained concerned about potential noise impacts, but he determined that the district addressed concerns satisfactorily.
Councilor Trudy Corrigan felt that, since the site has industrial park zoning, a different business could occupy the property and create even worse impacts considering the school buses don’t operate at capacity year round.
“I think it is probably the lightest imaginable potential use for that property,” she said.
Mayor Joe Buck said that the city shares neighbor concerns about pedestrian safety in the area and has lobbied the Metro regional government to fund pedestrian improvements along Lakeview Boulevard.
“That’s a project we at the city have been fighting for for years,” he said.
Superintendent Jennifer Schiele said during the meeting that the school district is committed to being a good neighbor to nearby residents and agreed with the commission that pedestrian improvements should be prioritized in this area.
The council is poised to adopt the decision at an April 4 meeting. After that, the neighborhood could appeal the decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals.