Growing agri-business in Donald needs more housing to attract and retain employees

PATRICK EVANS - Agricultural land in Donald slated for annexation into the city's Urban Growth Boundary. The city of Donald is planning to expand its Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and annex 87.6 acres of land for residential housing. Agri-business in Donald has surged in the past five years, but housing supplies have not increased.

Donald businesses GK Machine and Sutherland Development have told the city they face difficulties growing their workforces and retaining employees due to the lack of housing. Employees are discouraged from working in Donald by long commute times and heavy traffic, according to the city's study.

The city received a grant for $14,000 to complete its UGB expansion study from the Marion County Economic Development Lottery Grant and $23,000 to fund a transportation study from GK Machine.

According to Donald City Manager Heidi Bell, the city would have been unable to complete its expansion study without the help of donors.

"We were going to put the kibosh on the whole plan. It would have never happened without the grants," Bell said.

The city performed a buildable land inventory and a housing-needs analysis in 2014, which determined Donald has a deficit of 76.7 acres within the UGB to provide for its 20-year projected housing needs.

The housing-needs analysis estimated that the city will need 771 single family residences by 2034, but only has 384 now, and will need 85 multi-family residences but has only seven now. Donald's population is forecast to grow to more than 2,000 residents by 2034.

Donald did not have enough land within city boundaries to rezone for residential construction, and had to find land to annex. The city conducted a study to determine the least valuable agricultural land along its borders, and selected nine properties held by four property owners on the southeast side of the city limits.

The city's study estimates that the land will provide space for 465 additional dwelling units — 69.11 acres will be zoned for single-family residential and 7.59 acres will be zoned for multiple family residential housing. The city's storm water detention facility takes up about 10 acres of the annex area.

The City Council held a first reading of the ordinance to expand the UGB on May 8. The council will hold a second reading and vote on the ordinance in June.

If the ordinance passes it will then have to be approved by the Marion County Board of Commissioners and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. Before any development projects can begin Donald will also have to expand its wastewater treatment lagoon, which is close to capacity. The city has applied for two $20,000 loans from the Oregon Business Development Department to conduct a water master plan.

The Donald City Council also appointed a new councilor on Wednesday. Gloria Nicholson will fill the seat vacated by Ellen Clemmons, who moved out of state in April. Nicholson's term expires Dec. 31, 2020.

Patrick Evans



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