A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany panel rejects 7-townhouse appeal

Written June 17th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

Seven townhouses are planned at this corner of Gibson Hill (left) and Sunny Lane (right). The wide-angle view distorts the right angle of the corner.

A subdivision for seven proposed townhouses off Gibson Hill Road in North Albany meets requirements in the city development code, so the Albany Planning Commission Monday affirmed its approval by the planning staff, rejecting an appeal.

The subdivision splits a lot of nearly one acre at 2949 Gibson Hill Road into nine separate lots, seven of which are just large enough to accommodate one townhouse each.

Audrey Eldridge, who lives near the project, appealed the planning department’s approval of the development. Among her concerns was the capacity of the water system to handle population growth in North Albany.

Previously, she also appealed the city’s approval of an 80-lot townhouse development on the south side of Gibson Hill Road. A referee has heard that appeal, with a decision due by July 3.

The seven houses are being planned by Albany developer Scott Lepman, who has owned the lot at Gibson Hill and Sunny Lane since 1994.

Eldridge and others worry that continued building in North Albany is straining the water and street systems. They point to traffic congestion during peak hours on the way to downtown. And they cite a new water master plan that says some pump stations serving North Albany are getting close to their capacity.

The city  planning staff, though, says the current townhouse projects and other new developments can be served by the water system and don’t need traffic impact studies because existing streets can handle the traffic that each would add.

The city approved the 80-lot “Riverwood Crossing” land division under so-called “middle housing” rules. The seven-townhouse Lepman project was approved under regular development standards.

I followed Monday’s planning commission meeting via Zoom. The vote in favor of the Lepman project and against the appeal appeared to be unanimous, though with Zoom you can’t really tell. (hh)

19 responses to “Albany panel rejects 7-townhouse appeal”

  1. Richard S. says:

    The nonsense continues! Who is “in” on starting a recall? Our city leaders do not give a damn about our quality of life issues in NA, and it is time to clean house, and get leaders that are not bought and paid for by the developers! Time to flush.

    • Jeff B. Senders says:

      Fact: Systems Development Fees are Accounts Receivable, and therefore overrule Quality of Life. And not just in Albany. The vast majority of the decision makers in the loop are not elected officials

  2. D Martin says:

    Current residents always resist change. We still have dead cellphone areas up the Northway because residents say cellphone towers are ugly. A lot of these small divisions ĝet by with well water and septic tanks . They have to invest in real sewer system as population grows

  3. M B says:

    Scott Lepman is doing quite a bit of this on property he has been sitting on.

  4. Deb H says:

    I agree. Here’s one even more insane, 12 townhouses just off Edgemont and 22nd. 22nd street is not even finished. People tried to appeal and were not heard. Watched gravel dump trucks hauling on Edgemont all day yesterday. The city won’t open up 24th off Waverly so now we’ll have even more traffic from 21st down Edgemont. We already have heavy traffic.
    This is one for Mr Hering to research.

  5. Richard Vannice says:

    Can’t blame this on the City Council. This was a “Commission” and are all appointed I believe.
    It’s apparent that none of the “planning staff” has had the pleasure of observing traffic on Gibson Hill Road during the week.

    • Richard S. says:

      Agree, but the Commissions are appointed by the Mayor & City Council. When you are handpicking the future decisions, this kind of nonsense persists.

    • DeeDee says:

      My comment is somewhat related to the traffic congestion. The speed limit from Crocker Lane to Scenic Dr is 45 mph. The rest of the speed limit from Crocker Lane thru North Albany Road to Hwy 20 is 40 mph. The entire way is totally residential so the speed limit should be slower. This is compared to Pacific Hwy where the speed is only 35 for most of it’s length. The speed is 45-50 south of the Police Station. I’ve thought for some time that the speed limit should be lower on all of Gibson Hill and North Albany Drive. With so many more people driving on these roads after the developments are complete should require the speed limit changed to 25-30 mph. My back yard is on Gibson Hill near Crocker Land and when the traffic light at Crocker Lane is green, drivers speed so fast past my back yard. Just saying.

  6. Steven Reynolds says:

    Why do you need a recall? The system works fine, council has the potential to change every two years. Those serving took the initiative and were motivated for whatever reason and were elected. There’s three seats coming up in a few months, then the other three in 2026. All you need is four votes to control the city (or three votes and the mayor). Everything runs through those four votes plus the appeal process which is prohibitively expensive and difficult to use in addition has an extremely low success rate.

  7. kuh says:

    Well, I think the Albany council does a good and professional job.

  8. Dala Rouse says:

    I didn’t run for reelection to the City Council after 12 years and the new Council took up the health annexation of North Albany. The Council said if the North Albany residents would annex all of the Urban Growth Boundary not just the health problem area, that they would keep the area rural. The citizens of North Albany bought into that and the area was voted to be annexed and passed. So much for keeping it rural.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      “health problem area” …. please explain

      • Hasso Hering says:

        Albany annexed all of North Albany within the city’s urban growth area in 1991. The annexation was sold as a way to solve or prevent public health problems caused by failing septic tanks. The first thing Albany did was to build a sewer system in North Albany and connect it to the Albany treatment plant.

  9. chris j says:

    Well Ms. Rouse what the council says will happen often is not the case. Citizens are not informed about how conditions change as the city sees fit. Lemon lies (laws) don’t apply to the false guarantees the city makes. Once we give them permission to pass something the fallout is our problem.

    • Richard S. says:

      Agree!!! You have summed up exactly why we need drastic change in city hall! We are tired of “being sold down the river”! It has come down to either changing out the present clowns, or taking even more drastic action, ie strict no growth laws in NA! They won’t like it when the voters say “Enuf”, and prohibit handing our quality of life over to the developers, all for the sake of $$$!

      • Abe Cee says:

        I love how NA people are saying “don’t build here, we like our small community…build in other parts of Albany” and the rest of Albany says “don’t build here either”. Seems like our city leadership should understand that people don’t want more building to take place, at least without having many of the existing problems resolved first (roads, schools, homeless, etc).

  10. sunflower says:

    I don’t see anyone in North Albany complaining about all the apartments being built in South and East Albany. I guess our quality of life isn’t as important. Another big apartment complex at the intersection of Queen and Geary makes no sense at all. Its one of the busiest intersections in town.

    • Richard S. says:

      We hear you, and support your concerns! The community, as a whole, needs to stand up to the nonsense coming out of city hall! Unfortunately, we are all guilty of seeing what is bad right around us, and not the bigger picture.

      Those of us in the NW can’t get across the bridge at times, are running out of water capacity, and more. I understand the concern about traffic, apts, etc., on the Linn County side of the river. Sadly, City Hall is more concerned about the useless downtown area…it will never amount to much. They ignore the people actually living around town instead. I still contend that those of us actually paying their tax bills say “enough”!

  11. chris j says:

    The main problem is the city does not respect it’s citizens quality of life. They shove the city’s problems on us while we try our best to make the city focused on community rather than juggling problems without resolving them. Their tactic is to infuse whatever will make them money and areas for them to enjoy. While the city is making their little oasis in downtown while they are trashing many other areas in their so called attempts in managing the homeless and making the working class carry the weight of it. The homeless need to be reabsorbed into society as productive citizens, not kept like side show freaks clustered in housing, camps, and shelters on display to solicit funding.


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