Sunderland Right-of-Way Vacation
February 17, 2022
In our part of town, there is a stretch along Marine Dr. between 33rd Ave. and Bridgeton Rd. where the 40 Mile Loop remains unfinished. It is a trail that runs westward along the south of Marine Dr. up until it crosses under the 33rd Ave. bridge, where it ends abruptly at a private property owned by WPC Marine LLC, and leased to Herc Rentals, a company that sells & leases heavy industrial equipment.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) retained an unimproved right-of-way for the 40 Mile Loop trail that cuts across WPC Marine’s property, and the lease agreement with Herc Rentals allows them to use it for vehicle storage. Recently, WPC Marine has requested that the City vacate (do away with) the right-of-way and incorporate that property into their site.
The “40 Mile Loop” is actually a 140-mile-long connected trail system that encircles much of Portland. It was first envisioned as part of Forest Park when the City was being beautified for the upcoming Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition of 1905. Over the years, an expanded idea was to connect a series of parks around the city by a trail that would be suitable for walking and bicycling, as well
as some opportunities for strollers, wheelchairs, skating, skateboarding, horseback riding, canoeing, and kayaking. With the encouragement of the City, suburban cities, federal agencies, conservationists, and civic groups, an alliance known as the 40-Mile Loop Land Trust was formed to continue advocacy for the project; but to this day, a continuous loop has yet to be established.
The impact on us of vacating this right-of-way would be that those of us in Bridgeton and East Columbia who might want to enjoy taking the 40 Mile Loop eastward would be out of luck. There are few residents in Sunderland, where the right-of-way is located, and their neighborhood association is not consistently active, so they haven’t weighed in.
As part of its process for deciding on such requests, the City considered a number of criteria, including adopted plans for public services, transportation, utilities, storm water, viewpoints, landscaping, pedestrian amenities, and community or commercial uses; and whether such criteria might be handled in alternate ways. There is no necessity for a public benefit criterion, so they didn’t need to require any showing that the vacation is in the public’s interest – only that it doesn’t hurt the public’s need.
The City’s Planning & Sustainability Commission (PSC) held its evaluation of the issue on January 25, and decided that the above criteria do not prevent them from granting the landowner’s request. It considered that, while a deviation of the path around the private property would add some 90-degree turns, which are not ideal, it makes the most sense. Based on that recommendation, the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) approved the vacation with the condition that the property owner will grant a 30-foot easement for construction of the recreational trail. It is an appealable decision.
East Columbia Land Use Chairman