Smith Creek first public hearing is Oct. 29
The Woodburn Planning Commission is unanimously recommending that the City Council approve the proposed 150-acre Smith Creek residential development, which would bring more than 800 residential units to Woodburn.
The City Council will have its first public hearing Monday, Oct. 29. The public has the opportunity to testify in person or in writing at that meeting.
Upon final approval from City Council, the developer, Stafford Land Company, could start on Phase 1A of its nine-phase project as early as 2019, according to city officials, with plans to spread the project over the next five to eight years.
"The developers have verbally indicated that they would like to start in spring of next year," said Colin Cortes, Woodburn's senior planner.
Included in the first phase will be an extension of Ben Brown Lane, currently a dead-end road extending west from Settlemier Avenue, all the way to a southern extension of Harvard Drive (a future phase will connect Harvard Drive and Stubb Road, a country road that is connected to Parr Road and will be upgraded as part of this development).
Amenities include a cycling and walking path between South Settlemier Avenue and Stubb Road along the west tributary of Mill Creek (as outlined in the city's Mill Creek Greenway Master Plan), as well as a combination of private common open spaces and public parkland. The greenway, which will eventually include benches and perhaps even a fountain, will be improved by the developer but then deeded to the city as parkland, according to Chris Kerr, community development director for the city. A picnic shelter is also proposed for the corner of Ben Brown Lane and Kirksey Street. Kirksey Street, which will be part of Phase 1B, will connect Ben Brown Lane with Parr Road, emerging across from Centennial Park (Eaden Street, part of Phase 4B of the project, will also connect to Parr Road).
The first phase will include building 161 homes, many of them located directly behind parts of Woodburn Estates & Golf homes. Over the course of the construction, there will be more than 600 houses built, nearly 100 townhouses and more than 100 multi-family units, or apartments.
The new development will link with already-existing thoroughfares, including Smith Drive and other side streets that are part of Smith Addition and, in the project's final phase, the newly constructed Killian Springs Parkway will travel from Stubb Road and meet up with Hayes Street between Nellie Muir Elementary School and St. Mary's Episcopal Church.
The Planning Commission held the first public hearing on the Smith Creek Development Project on Sept. 27, which included public testimony from the applicant, representatives from the owner of the property and from neighbors surrounding the proposed development. At a follow-up meeting Oct. 11, the Planning Commission met to hear the applicant respond to the testimony, deliberate on the project and make the recommendation to the City Council.
Neighbors of the development have been given ample notice about the pending construction, Kerr noted, with four neighborhood meetings held as early as last year and notices being mailed to anyone who lives 250 feet from the property.
One of the concerns presented on Sept. 27 was about the developers' proposal to remove a stop sign on Hayes Street at the T-shaped intersection with Oregon Way, a suggestion made so that the anticipated higher volume of traffic will move more efficiently.
"It's not required for engineering purposes, it just slows down traffic," Kerr explained.
Neighbors were concerned that this would encourage drivers to speed, even though there are two marked crosswalks where golfers connect to the Woodburn Estates golf course. The developer's solution was to put in a proper crosswalk signal to make the crossings more visible. Kerr added that a new pedestrian crossing will also be added on Parr Road to connect the development with Centennial Park.
Kerr said he was surprised to hear some concerns about rats living on the farmland.
"The concern was that when (the developer) started grading the land, rodents of any kind would disperse," Kerr said.
The developer promised, in response, to put out traps for the rodents.
Woodburn Estates residents living next door to the proposed development expressed concern about a greenway that would connect the neighborhoods, as well as concern for the potential of two-story homes looming over their backyards. The developers promised to not only construct a uniform perimeter (fence line), but if the houses built there are two stories (a decision that hasn't yet been made) they promised to have a deeper backyard to provide privacy to all residents.
"Overall, we haven't received a lot of negative feedback," Kerr said.
The 150 acres sits on what used to be called the Smith family farm. Heirs of the land testified before the Planning Commission that their late mother and owner, Hazel Smith, hadn't wanted to sell the land but had wanted to develop the entire farm in chunks.
"It was important to them that it wasn't done by nine developers, but that there was one master plan," Kerr said.
Read more about the proposals, testimony and responses from the Planning Commission agenda at http://www.ci.woodburn.or.us/?q=node/651.