Woodburn City Council called up a Planning Commission approval of the Pacific Valley Apartments, then held a lengthy testimony on the project

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Pacific Valley Apartment project would erect a number of three-story buildings at the 1300 block of Pacific Highway 99E — a complex containing 36 one-bedroom, 150 two-bedroom and 18 three-bedroom units just north of Al's Garden & Home and just west of Country Acres Estates, a subdivision through which Greenview Drive runs parallel to Pacific Highway.
Woodburn City Council approved a planned 204-unit apartment complex sited off Highway 99E, but not before adding a few touches to make nearby neighbors more comfortable about it.

In a session enduring the length of time a respectable distance runner needs to complete a marathon, the council deliberated at length on the complex project plan, which had drawn complaints from residents in an adjacent neighborhood after the Woodburn Planning Commission approved it on Oct. 10.

At its previous meeting the city council agreed to call up the approved plan, a rarely used option but one that can potentially work out issues.

A few residents living on Greenview Drive, part of the Country Acres Estates Subdivision just east of the site, approached the commission with concerns. Many more residents were on hand for the Nov. 12 council meeting to do the same. Privacy and parking appeared to be chief among the concerns, while worries about noise and deflated property values also emerged.

"All we need is one teenager to play her hip-hop because she's mad at her neighbor because he likes his mariachi music," said Greenview Drive property owner Alex Muraviov. "It's going to be to the point where we can't go into the back yard. All our windows got to be closed. All our doors have to be locked or closed. We're locked in our properties. If I get tired of living like that, how many of you would be willing to offer me a bid on my property? That's what we are facing."

Prior to the meeting, the development architect, Robert Leeb, tweaked the site plan to help alleviate privacy concerns, pivoting the building sited at the far east edge of the complex to afford more greenery at the expense of 9 parking spaces. That change was included in the council's approval.

Initially, the commission's approved plan included 7 variances, one of which called for using shrubbery in lieu of constructing a wall as required by city ordnance.

Leeb said the developers were willing to build that wall, so the council ultimately nixed that variation then approved the plan.

Community Development Director Chris Kerr itemized the changes to the plan.

"There won't be less landscaping than what was approved by the Planning Commission; there will be more," Kerr said. "Besides denying the variance request, the city council also approved one additional change from the planning commission approval."

PMG PHOTO JUSTIN MUCH - The architect and developer of Pacific Valley Apartments off 99E will erect a wall and pivot one of the complex's buildings to afford more privacy to Greenview Drive neighbors whose backyards abut the site.Kerr cited:

Pivoting Building C, the one closest to Greenview Drive lots, to increase the setback – the midpoint of the building increases from 10 feet to more than 40 feet from the property line;

Moving the building results in additional green space next to the neighbors but the removal of 9 parking spaces on the site;

Thickening the east buffer landscaping with more trees and shrubbery including Leyland Cypress trees and arbor vitae.

Mayor Eric Swenson summed up the panel's charge as its ongoing goals are to see to accommodating the city's considerable housing needs, yet doing so without compromising livability or the livelihood of current residents.

A number of Greenview Drive residents who approached the council last month stressed that they were not opposed to the complex, but they feared that the way it was originally planned could affect their homes.

At the city's behest, Leeb watched the city's video of the council meeting where those residents made their comments, and he adjusted the architectural plans in a manner he hoped would help address concerns of neighboring residents.

The council spent roughly three hours hearing testimony from residents and the developer, then discussing at length details of that information and determining what latitude they had to weigh in on it. The final motion passed 4-2.


•Woodburn City Hall will be closed Nov. 28-29 for Thanksgiving Holiday.

•Woodburn Public Library will be closed Thursday, Nov. 28, and open form 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29.

•Woodburn Aquatic Center will be closed Thursday, Nov. 28, but will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29.

•Transit services will be closed on Nov. 28 but on regular schedule Nov. 29.

•The Woodburn City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 25, has been cancelled. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9.

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