Fresh off her upset victory in the Ward 4 City Council race, Jackie Leung is making good on her campaign promise to work hard on preserving open space in the Creekside neighborhood.
She recognizes that unfettered development can't be allowed to diminish the quality of life for Salem residents. So Leung is asking the City Council to reconsider and overturn its recent narrow 5-4 approval of a Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District.
The Reimbursement District collects between $4,000 and $10,000 from lot owners in the south Salem area when a home is built on their property, then gives that money to developers to reimburse them for constructing improvements to Lone Oak Road.
There's some big problems with this plan.
Here's why people in Salem should support fairness by emailing the City Council at email@example.com to urge them to reconsider and overturn the Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District at next Monday's May 29 council meeting.
(1) City officials assume the Creekside golf course will become a subdivision. Even though the Creekside Homeowners Association is appealing a legal decision that allowed developers Larry Tokarski and Terry Kelly to build a subdivision on the golf course property, the Reimbursement District assumes that 210 homes will be built on that property.
It isn't fair for the City of Salem to tilt the scale in favor of developers when people in the Creekside neighborhood are doing their best to preserve the open space that they consider was promised to remain in perpetuity when they bought homes there.
(2) Greenspace is valuable to everybody in Salem. There needs to be a vigorous community discussion about the best use of the Creekside golf course property, should it ever be converted from a golf course. Developers shouldn’t be able to get their way just because they seek to make money from a subdivision development.
Quality of life for Salem residents has to be considered in every development decision. As noted above, the Reimbursement District simply takes for granted that the golf course property will become a subdivision. This ignores flooding risks for downstream homes and businesses by developing that property.
(3) Developers shouldn't get preferential treatment from City officials. As I noted in a recent post about the Reimbursement District, Public Works Director Peter Fernandez said at a City Council meeting that likely the southern extension of Lone Oak Road would be built by developers of two subdivisions in that area even if a Reimbursement District wasn't formed to pay them back.
Government shouldn't do what the private sector already plans to do. Lot owners in south Salem shouldn't have to pay an extra $4,000 to $10,000 when they build a home on their property so real estate developers get a free ride on building road improvements that they would have to construct anyway.
Here's a message Jackie Leung is releasing today which echoes the points made above:
Subject: Email City Council to Save Creekside Golf Course
Dear Creekside Neighbors,
Please join me in writing an email to the Salem City Council (firstname.lastname@example.org) before they meet again on May 29, 2018. Under City Council rules, any councilor who voted for the May 14, 2018 motion can ask that it be reconsidered at the next meeting. The email below is an initial step in our effort to get the City Council on the side of the Creekside community.
If the cloud of the Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District is removed from our golf course on May 29, it will be easier to use the Salem Comprehensive Plan to protect our outdoor recreation and open space. In addition, we can review options for a ballot measure or conservation easement to protect the golf course as permanent green space for south Salem.
Please consider writing an email or letter to the City Council before May 29. This message was sent only to a small list of Creekside residents, so please reach out to others and encourage them to email the City Council.
I am thankful for Creekside's support for my campaign for City Council. I look forward to working together over the next four years to protect the Creekside golf course.
Email message to Salem City Council: email@example.com
Subject: Save Creekside Golf Course
Mayor Bennett and City Council members,
Please reconsider and overturn the May 14, 2018 motion establishing the Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District.
The District is based on building 210 homes on the golf course with each home paying about $10,000 for the costs to build Lone Oak Road.
The District should not be approved because:
(1) The court appeal has not been decided.
(2) City rezoning and development approvals have not been granted.
(3) Developers already have the contractual obligation to build Lone Oak Road.
As a Salem resident, I am strongly opposed to the City Council taking any action that assumes the Creekside golf course will be subdivided into a housing development.