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Newberg City Council prepares to adopt the plan to revitalize a stretch along the Willamette River

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Plans for Newberg's riverfront must take into consideration the future of the former 'WestRock paper mill and Rogers Landing.

Newberg's long-considered Riverfront Master Plan is heading into its final stages, as the only thing left to do is for the City Council to adopt it.

On Monday, the planning commission recommended the council accept the master plan, which, according to commission documents, will "serve as a guiding document for future regulatory and infrastructure actions related to Newberg's riverfront. The proposed plan reflects input from a variety of stakeholders and is based on the community's vision for the riverfront."

The city first began updating its 17-year-old master plan in 2017, though it had to put that off to begin construction of the Newberg-Dundee bypass. The original 2002 plan also suffered several setbacks, such as the economic recession and the closure of the WestRock mill in 2016. However, the city returned to the plan, in part due to a $200,000 grant from the state's Transportation and Growth Management Program.

The goal of the plan is to look at what mix of uses, both residential and commercial, should be in the riverfront area; plan a walking, biking and automotive network to increase connectivity within the area and the city; and protect open space.

Related to the final steps of the plan is the fact that WestRock recently announced it was putting the mill back on the market for sale, after more than a year off the market. This came several months after WestRock had announced its intentions to retain the mill and keep it zoned for industrial purposes. The mill itself has been closed since 2016, and several city stakeholders have wanted the mill site to be rezoned to allow for uses other than industrial.

The mill site is considered a big part of the master plan, as allowing additional uses would benefit the city effort to revitalize the waterfront.

According to planning documents, the Riverfront Master Plan "establishes a desired mix of residential and employment uses; incorporates parks, open space areas, and unique riverfront features; and plans for a multi-modal transportation network that improves connectivity."

A citizen's advisory committee looked at three alternatives to the 2002 plan. The first alternative would be similar to the 2002 plan and would retain a bit of commercial space at the end of River Street, but would leave most of the mill site as it is for industrial use. The remaining alternatives looked to introduce different types of comprehensive plans and zoning that would allow for other commercial use areas and different types of smaller industrial – such as tech uses – or mixed uses that aren't currently allowed.

All the alternatives also featured interconnected trail networks.

According to a plan narrative, the 460-acre riverfront area contains several manmade features that limit development and connectivity to other areas. However, it is viewed as a space that can provide for "large events, as well as opportunities for families and individuals to gather, recreate and relax. Safe and direct connections for walkers, bikers, and drivers will draw people to the riverfront from downtown and other areas of the city. A mix of residences, public spaces, services, commerce and industrial uses will tie together through great design, creating a unique, mixed use setting on the Willamette River."

The council will consider accepting the plan at its Sept. 16 meeting.


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