Sunday August 20, 2017 9:29 pm

Our History

Charbonneau – a community of beauty and natural surroundings.  We are proud to share its abundance of trees, flowers, and wildlife with friends and neighbors.

Charbonneau is an active community.  Our three 9-hole executive length golf courses, owned by the Charbonneau Golf Club, provide over 115 acres of open space.  Our active tennis club plays on both indoor and outdoor courts and regularly hosts competitive events.  And many social activity groups provide dozens of entertainment and educational opportunities.The Charbonneau district, located within the City of Wilsonville along the south bank of the Willamette River, is virtually a “city within a city” with a newspaper, recreational facilities, and a number of small businesses serving the needs of the community.

In the 41 years since the first homes were built on what was formerly the Miley/Gordon farms and annexed into the city, the population has grown to approximately 3,500 residents living in 534 townhomes, 236 condominiums, 510 houses, 126 apartments, 178 units in the SpringRidge Retirement Community, and 84 units at SpringRidge Court assisted living community.Approximately 80 school-age children living in Charbonneau attend the Canby public schools as the Willamette River forms the dividing line between the Canby and West Linn/Wilsonville school districts. Recreational facilities in Charbonneau include a 27-hole golf course, driving range, tennis facility with 2 indoor & 2 outdoor courts, boat moorage with 35 slips on the Willamette River, 24 swimming pools, an athletic field for basketball, baseball, and soccer, and a playground for the smaller children know as the “tot lot.”

The Charbonneau Country Club guides our 13 homeowners associations and helps maintain our quality of life standards, a Village Center shopping area, and common space enjoyed by all.

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A Little History

Willamette Factors began development of the beautiful community of Charbonneau in 1972 on 477 acres of farmland along the Willamette River. As part of this planned unit development (PUD) they were required by Clackamas County to include 25% of open space in order to get approval for this unique project in Oregon.

The 115 acres of open space that now meanders through Charbonneau includes our three 9-hole golf courses and the driving range. This land could have been established as a community park rather than a golf course. However, to attract new home buyers, the developer chose to use a golf course as the primary amenity to attract golfers to what was then considered a remote suburb of Portland.  By doing so, he also was able to provide some of the revenue required to maintain our open space, despite operating it with consistent losses.

Luckily for Charbonneau, this choice to make our open space into a golf course, in addition to being an important recreational choice for residents, has provided our community with a steady revenue stream that provided full care for our open space for many years.  If instead a park had been established, the full maintenance costs of these 115 acres would be up to the whole community to share. Today, it is estimated that park property maintenance costs would be $5,000 – $7,000 per acre per year, meaning the cost to us all would be in the $600,000 – $800,000 range annually.

Nearly all new residents in the early years who purchased homes in Charbonneau were golfers. However, that began to change once the landscaping matured, and the peaceful ambiance of Charbonneau attracted many non-golfers throughout the mid-80s.

In 1986, the developer completed most of his sales of homes, and offered the golf course to Charbonneau residents through a purchase by Charbonneau Country Club (CCC).  An offering was made to all residents to become shareholders in the golf course at $2200 per share.  A maintenance assessment of $20 per month was also to be included to offset the expected losses from golf course operation.

However, despite a community vote approving this proposed means of securing care for this asset, a small homeowners group opposed the offer. They filed a lawsuit to block the requirement of all residents being required to purchase a share or to be assessed for golf course maintenance. They were successful in getting a ruling that CCC’s own covenants and restrictions did not allow such a purchase to be made.

The developer then sought to sell the course to outside operators. He had 15 interested parties interested in purchasing the course, including at least one from a Japanese group.

Men’s Club members then led an effort in 1989 to form a community-owned company to ensure local ownership of our green space.  About 550 shares at $5000 each were sold to residents, one per household who volunteered to support the offering.

The 27 hole golf course and 7-acre driving range were purchased in 1990 for $2,723,000.  Many of the shareholders were then also active golfers who resided here then played in Charbonneau.  Charbonneau Golf Club Inc. (CGCI) was formed and has operated since under the oversight of a 9-member volunteer board of directors.

By forming the CGCI, the golfing community assumed sole responsibility for the upkeep of Charbonneau’s central green space through the operational revenues generated from the golf course. That has been the case for 21 years.

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Today

However, as the local demographics have changed, and the percentage of people living here who play golf has steadily declined, our golf course business struggles to generate sufficient revenue to provide the full care for our open space.  Concerned homeowners conducted a campaign (TWCDI) to inform residents of this issue during 2011 and 2012.   Over 560 families in Charbonneau contributed over $215,000 to provide temporary assistance while this issue was being studied by a joint committee of our Golf Club and Country Club.  It is expected that they will provide a recommendation soon for how all homeowners can share in permanently ensuring that our open space is properly cared for into the future.  Stay up-to-date here on CharbonneauLive.com with the latest on how what is being discussed and decided to resolve this situation.

All of this is good to know, but the bottomline is that Charbonneau has matured to be a wonderful place for people to live, and now has a distinct resort atmosphere which makes it one of the most attractive communities in which to live in Oregon.  In addition to golf, we can offer residents a wide variety of choices for their recreation and enjoyment. The open space/golf course still remains our most important asset, and secures the value of our investment in our community while anchoring the ambiance that attracts new homebuyers.

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