Camas seeks help planning ‘North Shore’

First in series of public meetings set for this evening at Lacamas Lake Lodge

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An illustration shows the city of Camas' "North Shore," an 800-acre swath of land that extends to the Camas' northern city limits and is bordered by Lacamas Lake, Northeast 232nd Avenue and Everett Street. (Illustration courtesy of city of Camas)

It has been more than six years since Camas City Council members approved an agreement designed to guide future development of the city’s “North Shore,” an 800-acre swath of land that extends from Lacamas Lake to Camas’ northern city limits and has long been touted for its potential to house Camas’ burgeoning population, provide parks and open spaces for future generations and build the city’s inventory of commercial and industrial land.

Now, city leaders hope community members will help them develop a more refined vision for North Shore and for what the Camas of 2035 might look like.

Camas Senior Planner Sarah Fox presented the city’s North Shore Public Participation Plan to city councilors at the Council’s workshop on Monday, Nov. 18, and said city staff are gearing up for a series of public participation meetings in November and December.

The first meeting is slated for 6 p.m., tonight (Thursday, Nov. 21) at Lacamas Lake Lodge, 227 N.W. Lake Road, Camas. This meeting will give community members a chance to learn about the project’s history and to make recommendations about how they would like to see the North Shore develop over the next 10 to 20 years.

City staff also plan to host two “visioning workshops” in December. The first, on Dec. 3, is for Camas High School students. The second, which will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at Camas High School, is for the entire community.

Fox said Monday that city staff will take feedback from the community outreach and visioning workshops to help guide recommendations to city leaders on the future of the North Shore subarea.

“The plan is fluid, so we can make adjustments to it,” Fox said. “Our first phase (goes) until January, when we (will) bring forward the vision the community has crafted for the North Shore plan.”

Fox said city staff have been trying to engage community members about the North Shore plan at community events, including the Camas Farmers’ Market and the Discovery High School open house earlier this year; through online surveys and a website built specifically to help residents better understand what North Shore is all about (camas; by conducting interviews with 21 property owners and community leaders throughout September and October; and via social media outlets like Facebook.

“We put out a list of questions on Facebook on Friday,” Fox said. And the Nov. 21 meeting will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Outgoing Camas Mayor Shannon Turk said Monday she was impressed by the work the department had done on the public outreach and that Mayor-elect Barry McDonnell was expected to attend the Nov. 21 community meeting at Lacamas Lake Lodge to get a better handle on a project that will shape the city’s future over the next two decades.

City Councilwoman Ellen Burton asked Fox if there was a way for city staff to communicate with community members who weighed in on the project “to avoid misunderstandings later.”

Camas Community Development Director Phil Bourquin told Burton that the city’s “Frequently Asked Questions” section on the North Shore website will be “a living document,” which can be updated with additional information as community members’ questions and comments flow in from the November and December meetings.

“That sounds great,” Burton responded, “like exactly what we need.”

Bourquin said the Nov. 21 meeting would introduce city staff and the city’s new mayor-elect to the community, give a primer on the North Shore plan and its background and discuss “some of the planning tools we’ve already accomplished in the area.”

The meeting will be live-streamed on Facebook and will have an audio recording posted to the city’s website.

“I really appreciate (that we are) learning from our last five or six months,” the councilwoman added, referring to blowback from residents upset over the council’s decision to put a $78 million community-aquatics center bond to voters in the Nov. 5 general election who told city leaders they didn’t feel like Camas officials had done enough to communicate the city’s plans to community members.

In 2013, city leaders designated zones for the North Shore that were to include 314 acres for an industrial business park development, 100 acres for multi-family housing, 40 acres for single-family housing and nearly 6 acres for community commercial uses. The first zoning only included 4 acres for open space near Lacamas Lake, but city leaders have since acquired 100 acres to conserve as forested land and natural space and create a multi-use trail that will someday circle Lacamas Lake.

The general timeline of the North Shore public participation plan includes public workshops at city planning and council meetings in the spring of 2020; more community workshops and online surveys in the summer of 2020; and public hearings before the Camas Planning Commission and City Council in the fall of 2020 to establish a draft plan.