Breaking ground in Frog Pond
This article was updated from its original version.
The interconnectivity is symbolic.
A few weeks after Wilsonville formally submitted an application to Metro lobbying the regional government to add Frog Pond South and East to the urban growth boundary, the City began paving the way for the first development in an adjoining planned-for residential neighborhood, Frog Pond West. City staff said more development applications in the burgeoning region are on the way.
Metro added Frog Pond West, which is 181 acres, into the UGB in 2002. Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp said the development of Wilsonville's current catalyst for residential growth, Villebois, made adding housing in Frog Pond less urgent — which is why 16 years elapsed before the first development application came to the fore. But with Villebois near completion, the City
has shifted its focus to Frog Pond.
"It's (the first development applications) really a significant milestone in the city's history if you think about it from the context of where we've been and how long we've been working on this particular area, to guide development of the area and the urban reserves to the east and to the southeast," Wilsonville Planning Director Chris Neamtzu said at the June 4 council work session.
The City passed the first reading of resolutions June 4 to annex 16 acres of Clackamas County land in Frog Pond West, which is located to the east of Wilsonville, and changed the area's zoning from rural residential farm forest five-acre to residential neighborhood to allow residential development. The council will then consider similar resolutions regarding another development application in Frog Pond West at the June 18 meeting. After annexation and zoning changes, builders need to submit grading permits, plat documents and eventually apply for building permits.
The application considered at the meeting, submitted by West Hills Development, is for a subdistrict of 26-28 8,000 to 12,000 square foot residential lots and a subdistrict that will include 20-25 lots averaging 6,000 to 8,000 square-feet. The parcels are located in the southeast corner of the Frog Pond West planning area — to the north of Boeckman Road and to the west of Stafford Road. The overall Frog Pond West area includes 13 subdistricts, 11 of which are designated for residential development, according to the Frog Pond West Master Plan.
The development that will go before the council June 18 is an 82-lot project requested by Pahlisch Homes. It would include 4,000 to 6,000-square-foot developments, with 10 percent of dwelling units, either duplexes or single family homes with an attached dwelling unit.
Frog Pond West has zoning rules unique to the rest of residential development in Wilsonville, which Assistant Planner Kimberly Rybold said are designed to encourage housing variety.
"The goal of that being creating a varied streetscape so that it's not cookiecutter, creating more of a variety of housing type," Rybold said.
Neamtzu indicated at the work session that West Hills is eyeing further development in the area and the development could be much larger than the other two.
"It's possible that the third in the pipeline could be a very significant chunk comprised of upwards of a couple hundred lots," Neamtzu said.
Wilsonville annexes land incrementally rather than all at once — which is why it's annexing the Frog Pond West land on a case-by-case basis.
"That (wholesale annexation) leaves a lot of uncertainty about what's planned or expected for those developments," Knapp said.
Due to an imbalance of jobs and housing, for many years, residential growth has been a priority in Wilsonville.
According to an Economic Opportunity Analysis produced by the City and consultants in 2008 Wilsonville had a jobs-to-population ratio of 1.03 compared to a ratio of .49 in Washington and Clackamas County at large. By 2017, Wilsonville's jobs to housing ratio decreased to .84 — due in large part to growth in Villebois.
But with the Coffee Creek industrial area nearing development and preparations for the Basalt Creek Planning Area progressing, Wilsonville's job totals could increase exponentially in the coming decades.
Knapp believes the City must match job growth with housing growth.
"We also have employment land that has yet to be developed, which are in relatively short supply across the region and I think it's a pragmatic view that we will continue to see people move into town and our obligation is to make forward-thinking decisions and plan on how best to accommodate additional jobs that the region needs and the additional housing that is a corollary to those jobs," Knapp said.
Along with suggesting greater housing options in the City, the 2008 study indicated that congestion along I-5 and within the City was one of the biggest hindrances of maximizing economic potential in Wilsonville. Traffic issues have only accelerated in ensuing years, and traffic along I-5 chronically spills into Wilsonville Road during peak hours.
Wilsonville hopes that a southbound auxiliary lane within the bottleneck will mitigate this issue. However, there is no guarantee the project will be approved and find funding. If approved, the lane likely wouldn't be finished for at least 10 years.
Though adding more people and cars to the city could accelerate traffic issues, Knapp said fostering a community where people work and live in Wilsonville could help alleviate traffic problems since such citizens would typically avoid the highway system. Currently, about 90 percent of Wilsonville's employees come from outside the City's limits.
Knapp also said Wilsonville plans to build new roads in Frog Pond so that transportation is tolerable.
"Wilsonville also continues to build out our interconnection system of surface transportation," Knapp said. "We have built a lot of roadways around the Villebois development to help connect to the local street system and that's the work we're planning on doing for Frog Pond."
According to Wilsonville's 2014 Housing Needs analysis, Wilsonville will run out of buildable land by 2030 without urban growth expansion and the City will experience a shortage of land supply by 2025. Knapp said the total Frog Pond area would include about the same amount of housing as the Villebois neighborhood if its UGB expansion request is granted. Frog Pond East and South includes 275 acres of land.
"I think we're looking for a wide range of housing opportunities for people that
have varying needs to fit their personal situation," Knapp said.
Though congestion might be an increasingly adverse side effect, Wilsonville's growth ambitions plow full speed ahead.
"I'm pleased to see this come forward," Knapp said at the council meeting. "After we've completed all the discussion and all the planning that has gone into it it's exciting to see what I think will become a major new community in our midst."
Associate Planner Kimberly Rybold's name was misspelled in a previous version of this article.