A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Densification: 35 dwellings in place of one

Written June 5th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

Looking north at the site of 35 planned townhouses at Waverly Drive and Grand Prairie Road on Friday afternoon. Waverly Drive is at left.

A year ago the Albany City Council rezoned a 1.3-acre property with a single house on it in southeast Albany, and now a site plan has been filed for the place. It calls for attached townhouses, 35 of them in all.

The city’s planning division on Friday issued a public notice that it had received an application to review a site plan for a 35-unit townhouse development at 2710 Grand Prairie Road S.E., on the southeast corner of Waverly Drive and Grand Prairie Road. Public comment will be accepted until June 16, and then the planning staff will decide on the application.

Spies Real Estate Group of Corvallis is the applicant. In May 2020, the firm obtained a zone change on the property from “medium density residential” to “medium density residential attached.” The main difference in the zoning districts is that the new designation, as the name implies, requires houses to be attached.

The site plan shows three buildings, one along Waverly, another along Grand Prairie, and the third backing up to the property to the east, the parking lot of the LDS church.

Before the council approved the rezoning, Councilman Dick Olsen worried about where the residents would park. The site plan shows where: inside the development. A street or driveway lined by parking spaces runs between the buildings.

The plan shows no direct entry or exit on either Waverly or Grand Prairie. Instead, the internal drive connects with the LDS property at both ends. Presumably the developers have a deal with the church to allow access to and from their townhouses by way of the church driveways.

It’s not clear from the plan whether the dwellings will be for sale or rent.

The development is in line with the Oregon legislature’s adopted policy of densification — more dwellings on the available land within cities. This comes with a cost, as the city makes clear.

The Albany council next week, on June 9, is scheduled to vote on imposing a monthly “services fee” or tax on every household and commercial property. And the reason, the city says on its website, is this: “Albany is growing and so is demand on city services. Current funding isn’t enough to continue providing these services.”

By the way, if families with school-age children move into the 35 townhouses, the kids will attend Periwinkle Elementary, Calapooia Middle, and South Albany High School, respectively — unless the attendance zones change before the place is built. (hh)

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19 responses to “Densification: 35 dwellings in place of one”

  1. Rdjourney says:

    Is accessibility for Emergency vehicles .. in and out of church parking lot. Sounds like a legal issues waiting to happen

  2. Roger Rabbit says:

    There goes the neighborhood!

  3. Tracy says:

    Wow.. and the creek that runs along back of that property joins into Grand Prairie.. how is the natural run off flow into that going to be effected by this build? There should be a cap on how many dwellings can go on that much property just because it’s cheaper to go up doesn’t mean others want folks looking down into their back yards. Why not build in Corvallis.

  4. Therese Waterhous says:

    What about long term water needs? There is very little in the codes for development that address the impacts of our long term drought and what that means for water quality and accessibility long term. In fact, no one has even thought to ask that question.

    • Al Nyman says:

      Last I looked at current rainfall it was above 27 inches for the water year or about 85% of normal. You shouldn’t ever pay attention to drought predictions from liberals such as the DH as they are always negative to get your attention.

  5. David Cross says:

    HH writes: “Presumably the developers have a deal with the LDS church to allow access to and from their townhouses by way of the church driveways”. A quick look from Google Earth would substantiate this presumption. The LDS church has two large existing asphalt access roads with concrete sidewalks leading from their parking area directly to the fenced 2710 Grand Prairie Road S.E. property lines. Perhaps the development will be a 35 unit parsonage?

  6. Judy says:

    What about the traffic issue this is going to cause at an intersection already plagued by accidents?

  7. James Engel says:

    Is the house to be taken down? It has a driveway off of Grand Prairie. That must be a sweet heart deal with the LDS church to use “their” parking lot for coming & going. I can just imagine the driving complaints if there are a few “bad apples” living there.

  8. Thomas Aaron says:

    Hey, does anybody remember the hullabaloo about ADUs? Somehow increasing the maximum allowable area by 150 sq ft was going to ruin this town with the strain on city services. Nevermind 35 homes on one lot.

    The best part of all is that some people were still arguing over the ADU issue when this deal had already been on the table.

  9. Kegan Williams says:

    Isn’t that something, a group of friends and I wanted to build 3 houses on one 20 acre lot, and were shut down by the county. I find it interesting that they would go through with a densification policy after we just got done with a pandemic that hit the dense populations the hardest…

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