Forest Grove Planning Commission tweaks, then approves a proposal for eight houses along Gales Way

COURTESY GRAPHIC - The eight Smith Orchard homes fill land between Gales Way (on the left) and B Street.At the July 17 meeting of the Forest Grove Planning Commission, we discussed the Smith Orchard Project.

One of the goals of the Forest Grove planning department is to use the land inside city limits in the best possible manner. We are obligated under Metro rules to achieve an average density of eight housing units per acre of developable land.

An acre is 43,560 square feet. Thus, the average lot needs to be 5,445 square feet.

The city's residential zones have average lot sizes that run from one acre in the upper parts of David Hill in the new westside area to as much as 50 units per acre in multi-family, multi-story housing downtown. Most residential areas are what we call R-7 or R-5, with the numbers representing how many thousands of square feet are required. The lot size in an R-7 zone, for example, must be at least 7,000 square feet.

When someone is buying a property they should be certain to determine the zone for that property so that in the future a neighbor cannot build a structure they didn't expect. This has happened in some of the areas of the city that were once more rural and had just a few widely separated homes — only to have a buyer discover that zoning would allow 12 units per acre and the neighbor was planning to build many small-lot, two-story homes just five feet from their property line.

NEWS-TIMES FILE PHOTO - Tom BeckOn July 17 we received an application for a new subdivision of eight homes for an odd-sized parcel that runs between Gales Way and B Street. The Smith Orchard project managed to create a new cul-de-sac street, locate five new homes and save three existing ones. All parking requirements were met.

We worked to adjust some of the lot lines to make new lots. We also reconfigured the storm water area by expanding the pond in order to save an historic building and maintain the normal side yard setback of 5 feet.

With those few tweaks we unanimously approved this project, which will conform to the requirements of the Walker-Gaylor-Historical district where it is located.

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