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Officials are seeking community input on a proposal to change land uses on a 100-acre area around Oak Street.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF FOREST GROVE - A bird's-eye view of the Oak Street Area Land Use Refinement Plan's project area in Forest Grove.Forest Grove officials are seeking community input on how to plan the future development of an area near Oak Street.

The roughly 100 acres of land sits a quarter-mile north of Pacific Avenue in north-central Forest Grove and is zoned general industrial, with farming as its primary current use.

With ample industrial land available throughout the city, Forest Grove officials say rezoning all or parts of the area for residential, commercial, mixed-use or other industrial development could address the city's need to create more housing and economic activity.

In partnership with 3J Consulting, Forest Grove officials developed four potential land use concepts as part of what they're officially calling the Oak Street Area Land Use Refinement Plan. Officials say they want community feedback before further defining plans for the area.

Community members can submit input through an online survey until April 7.

"This is a really important project in Forest Grove, and one that can really help shape a future vision for Forest Grove," said Bryan Pohl, Forest Grove's community development director, at a virtual open house on Wednesday, March 17.

Oak Street divides the refinement area, with Highway 47 running along its north and east sides. Railroad tracks run along the southern edge. Council Creek and Kingwood Street flank its western edges.

Adjacent to the area is existing multifamily housing, with additional industrial areas to the east and the city limits to the north.

The area is bisected by a few utility and irrigation easements, but it otherwise doesn't have environmental factors that could limit its development, said Steve Faust, community planning director with 3J Consulting.

The presence of a utility substation and the lack of existing infrastructures such as sewer and storm drains and roadway extensions have long been barriers to the area's industrial development, Faust said. The high cost of building utility lines relative to land value has limited industrial development, Pohl added.

"That may not be the case for residential or commercial," which are land uses the city has identified it needs, Pohl said.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF FOREST GROVE - The Oak Street Area Land Use Refinement project area's extent highlighted in orange.Faust said people should identify parts of the four land use concepts they like, rather than choosing one as the best. The project team will pull from the most popular elements of each to create more detailed proposals, he added.

Each concept involves a combination of residential, commercial and mixed-use residential/commercial areas, with varying levels of each in different segments of the area. Residential land use occupies the most land in each concept.

Multiple people at the open house commented that they liked the third concept, because it proposed having a main street-style intersection designed in the center, with Oak Street intersected by a planned extension of Northwest Martin Road. The concept includes making the four corners of the intersection mixed-use residential with retail on the street level and housing or office space on the upper levels.

Faust also described designing street entrances to the area in a way that signals to passersby that there's commercial development internally.

Maribel De Leon, director of microenterprise programs at Adelante Mujeres, who attended the open house, said Adelante and another nonprofit, Bienestar, are planning to create a natural area on a property near the northwest corner of the refinement area, which would be beneficial to new residents.

She also noted the importance of designing commercial areas to allow for local small businesses to take advantage of new potential brick-and-mortar locations.

Although the city can't pick which businesses come, Pohl said, officials are mindful that they can create land use and code criteria to help facilitate small businesses coming in.

The majority landowner of the refinement area said they would be interested in selling to one buyer, Faust said. A higher variability of land uses could make it more difficult to attract interest from a single buyer, one open house attendee noted.

Forest Grove and 3J officials plan to meet with the project's technical advisory committee for the fourth time in April to discuss community feedback and make progress on a more detailed proposal of land uses with stakeholder input, Faust said.

Afterward, consultants will work to determine development costs for the desired land uses, he said.


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