Woodburn Planning Commission is considering 300-unit complex; neighbors fear traffic problems

COURTESY RENDERING: CITY OF WOODBURN - The proposed 300-unit apartment complex would have 13 residential buildings. Above is a rendering  created by Mackenzie, the firm applying to annex and develop the site, of one of those buildings.The city of Woodburn Planning Commission is considering an annexation application for a 300-unit apartment complex located west of the Woodburn Premium Outlets. The application for the development, called Woodland Crossing, was addressed at the July 27 Woodburn Planning Commission meeting.

An estimated 60 people attended the meeting, which was standing-room only. At the meeting, 18 residents, largely from west Woodburn, gave public testimony raising concerns about the development. Most of the concerns centered on the possibility of increased traffic in the area, which residents said would decrease the livability of their neighborhood.COURTESY MAP CITY OF WOODBURN - The site being considered for the apartment complex is located west of the Woodburn Premium Outlets and east of the Woodburn West Mobile Estates, outside Woodburn city limits and within the newly redrawn Urban Growth Boundary.

The site being considered for the apartment complex is located west of the Woodburn Premium Outlets and east of the Woodburn West Mobile Estates, outside Woodburn city limits and within the newly redrawn Urban Growth Boundary. The apartments would be developed by Mackenzie, an architecture and civil engineering firm based in Portland.

The site also includes a separate RV storage unit. While the RV storage unit is owned and being developed by a different company from the apartment complex, it was included in the application for the apartment complex pursuant to the city's development ordinances.

According to the application for the development, the apartment complex would include 13 residential buildings, a leasing office, a recreational center, a swimming pool and a maintenance building. The RV storage facility, located on the other side of Senecal Creek, which runs through the site, will fit up to 127 vehicles.

The city's Community Development Director Chris Kerr said he's not surprised the application has incited so much negative feedback.

"I suppose it's natural. The area's been a farm for a very, very long time. (It was) undeveloped land," Kerr said.

But Kerr said that because the site's been designated as medium density residential land since 2005, it shouldn't come as a shock that an apartment complex could be built there.

"It's been designated that for a long time," Kerr said. "It's a natural transition between commercial and single family, and the comprehensive plan calls for locating higher density residential land near shopping." COURTESY DRAWING CITY OF WOODBURN - This map, which is oriented with west at the top, shows the planned Arney Lane route that would be the main roadway near the apartment complex. Arney Lane, currently a dead end, would be extended to connect to Woodland Avenue through Steven Street.

If approved, the apartment complex would be connected to Arney Lane. Currently, Arney Lane is a dead-end street. The development would extend Arney Lane to Woodland Avenue, with Steven Street serving as a connector between the two.

The application included a design review, and as such included a transportation impact analysis.

That impact analysis concluded that the traffic would not exceed the limitations set out by city and state law.

"All study area intersections are anticipated to operate within city and ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) mobility standards during the a.m. and p.m. peak hours with the proposed Woodland Crossing development except for the intersection of Woodland Avenue and Robin Avenue," the application reads. "No off-site impacts are anticipated for the proposed Woodland Crossing development; therefore, no mitigation will be required."

The analysis also included crash history for the area, which showed that in a five-year period, four crashes were reported to ODOT. Of those, none of them involved severe injuries, according to the analysis.

The transportation engineers conducting the traffic impact analysis did recommend that signage be added to Robin Avenue to indicate that left-turns can be made from both lanes and that both lanes provide access to Interstate 5, which the engineers said would solve the problems witnessed at the intersection of Woodland and Robin.

Engineers also estimated the number of vehicle trips expected from the development. They determined that the peak morning and evening hours for traffic created by the development would be 7 to 8 a.m. and 4:45 to 5:45 p.m., respectively. An estimated 145 morning peak hour trips, 186 evening peak hour trips and 1,974 daily trips are estimated to be created by the development. Those estimates meet the code requirements for a new development.

Most of the concerns raised by residents at the planning commission involved fears about the fact that if the apartment complex was developed as planned, Woodland Avenue would be opened to a new stream of traffic. Many residents said they moved to the neighborhood because of the cul de sac-like street, and that the new development would ruin the insular feel of the neighborhood.

"The bottom line is if you want to put in another apartment complex, go for it, but you find a different entrance and exit to it. Not through the neighborhood we live in," said resident Marie Friend at the planning commission meeting.

"We agreed to live in this community because it's quiet, it's peaceful, it's basically crime-free," said resident Marlene Kernodle at the meeting. "I have a mother-in-law that's 82 that lives with us … (and) the neighborhood's full of the elderly who walk in our neighborhood because it's safe. If we have all this traffic and the people (then) crime is going to go up — we know it is, because those people causing problems in the outlet mall are going to be right into our community."

Residents also raised doubts about the crash data provided by ODOT.

"We live in this neighborhood and we know what happens. Myself and my wife have been in very close and very serious calls in our cars on Woodland," said resident David Minton during the meeting. "Just because we know how many cars are going to go doesn't tell us what those cars are going to do. I sit on my front porch and watch cars going 40 and 50 mph down Woodland. If we're going to add a bunch of traffic to that we're going to need to do something to make it safer."

MacKenzie's transportation engineer Jennifer Danziger said at the meeting that they can only account for reported crashes.

"When we look at crashes we can only look at what's been recorded," she said in response to some of the testimony. "The other thing is that we can't account for are anecdotal near-misses. I'm not saying they do not occur, I'm just saying we have no way of understanding it."

Danziger also said concerns about people speeding on Woodland Avenue isn't the responsibility of the project developers. "The only people driving on Woodland and Willow right now are the neighbors. That's an existing problem that's not created by this project," she said.

The planning commission moved to keep the written testimony period open through Tuesday. The next planning commission meeting will be on Thursday at 7 p.m., at which there will be further discussion, deliberation and applicant rebuttal addressing the testimony.

Ultimately, the commission will either recommend or fail to recommend that the Woodburn City Council approve the application. The recommendation will be made on the basis of whether the commission determines the development is compliant with city standards and guidelines.

Julia Comnes can be reached at 503-765-1195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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