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System worked for concerned parents


Gateway-area resident Mary Kerchal has received some good news. Over her back fence, the neighbors — a training facility for developmentally disabled adults that includes some sex offenders — is in the process of moving out. Kerchal’s concerns were outlined in the January 2007 Memo article “Sex offenders group home offends neighbors.”

Kerchal became aware of the program at 330 N.E. 102nd Ave. when a neighboring couple took a stroll on the street with their 3-year-old, and a group of staff people materialized to form a human fence to block the child’s progress onto the facility grounds. Kerchal and her neighbors considered the location a poor place for such a facility given the large number of children in the area. Donald Acker, director of Development Systems, Inc., the parent company of the facility, told Kerchal and others that the facility was “completely legal,” and assured them that the clients were under supervision at all times. Kerchal was unconvinced, especially when she saw some of the clients staring at her and her 10-year-old son through the back window. She contacted various governmental agencies, including the Portland Bureau of Developmental Services.

According to Ross Caron, section manager for compliance services of BDS, the city notified DSI in January that it was in violation of the city zoning code. The property is zoned CM. This allows commercial use by right in buildings carrying this designation, but stipulates that at least 50 percent of the floor area must be devoted to residential use. At the time they were given 30 days to either comply with the code or face penalties that could include daily fines. DSI requested and received two extensions of the original deadline in order to find a way to work within the code.

On March 20, DSI representatives asked for a third extension, this time for 60 days so it could relocate the program. The company informed the city that it could not find a use for the property that would meet both its own needs and city regulations. The extension was granted.

Acker could not be reached for comment.

“I think this shows that once in a while, the system does work,” a relieved Kerchal told the Memo.
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