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Senior housing project gets go-ahead


Approval modifies ordinance limiting housing units

A sharply divided Wilsonville City Council gave the final go-ahead Aug. 5 on a planned 112-unit senior apartment complex in the new Brenchley Estates development.

Mayor Tim Knapp was joined by Councilors Julie Fitzgerald and Susie Stevens in a 3-2 vote to approve the ordinance on its second reading. Councilors Scott Starr and Richard Goddard voted against it.

Its passage modifies a 2012 city ordinance that once limited the allowable number of multi-family housing units in Brenchley Estates to 715. It also waives the city’s height limit for commercial buildings to allow the 47-foot tall complex to be built.

The council’s final approval comes three weeks after a public hearing and first reading of the ordinance drew passionate testimony both for and against the project. Supporters say Wilsonville is dearly lacking in age-restricted housing for seniors, while opponents point to Wilsonville’s lopsided multifamily versus single-family housing stock ratio of 57 to 43 percent and note that the project will only worsen that situation.

“I see no contradiction between saying we need to improve our stock of single-family housing and saying there’s another need in the community that a particular project will fill,” said Knapp. “There’s no logical connection that says if you have one you can’t have the other.”

The Active Adults project, he added, “is a quite unique proposal” that is not replicated in the local community.

“It fills a market niche based on their needs, based on their economic situation, based on a lot of components,” he said. “I think it’s a reasonable plan and will create communities where people will want to be. It does not mean we should ignore other specific needs in the community.”

Vancouver-based developer Holland Partners Group can now forge ahead with Active Adults at the Grove, a four-story, age-restricted apartment complex that will replace 30 single-family homes that were once slated for construction.

The planned complex will feature elevators, luxury furnishings and fittings and a host of amenities not offered at the adjacent Jory Trail at the Grove or Terrene apartment complexes that help make up Brenchley Estates.

Goddard and Starr both objected to passage of the ordinance, which they said further increases the city’s ratio of multifamily to single-family housing.

Starr even went so far as to question Knapp’s ability to vote in an impartial manner on the project, noting that Knapp recently recused himself from a vote involving the Holland Partners Group just a few weeks earlier.

“So it’s different on this one?” Starr asked. “The fact they were a major donor to your campaign is not a conflict?”

Knapp denied that any conflict existed, while Fitzgerald said that if any business donating to a local political campaign caused an actual conflict of interest it could well dry up such donations and political participation to an unhealthy degree.

“Unless it’s justified by something that’s happened,” she said, “I really feel disappointed at statements that might make community businesses reluctant to ever donate to any campaign if those statements are going to be made.”