A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

‘Franklin Reserve’ to cut 251 oaks, keep 58

Written August 3rd, 2020 by Hasso Hering

These Oregon white oaks near Franklin Avenue and Airport Road are to be retained in a development approved by the Albany Planning Commission Monday.

In a public hearing that was difficult to follow because of its virtual and remote nature online, the Albany Planning Commission Monday approved a planned unit development of 11 houses and 44 apartments on a wooded site off Airport Road.

There was no opposition, and as far as I could tell the approval was unanimous.

The approved plan calls for the the felling of 258 trees bigger than 25 inches in circumference at chest height. Of those, 251 are Oregon white oaks from 6 to 36 inches in diameter.

Also, however, 58 white oaks of 6 to 39 inches in diameter are to be retained on the eastern side of the 6.5-acre tract, fronting Airport Road just south of Franklin Avenue. The area is to be kept as open space, and there will be no driveways on Airport Road.

In its staff report, the city planning staff said the plan presented was the best way to develop the site, which also contains 1.7 acres of designated wetland that won’t be developed. (It’s not a wetland in the sense that it’s usually wet. The developer and property owner, Mike Shults of St. Paul, said he had to mow the tall dry grass to avoid a hefty city fine.)

Much of the hearing was taken up by a discussion about who would manage the homeowners’ association that the developer will have to establish, even though the management is unrelated to city development standards.

The name of the development, by the way, will be “The Franklin Reserve.” Its only access will be from Franklin.

The apartments are to be for seniors, though I didn’t hear a definition of who will quality.

The project is intended to be built in five stages, with the individual houses being built first. There was no indication when the work would start or when the senior apartments would be finished.

Here’s a screenshot of the planned development. Franklin Avenue is at the top.

The hearing was hard to follow because of the noise online — papers being shuffled in front of open microphones, people banging on their computers or desks, that sort of thing.

Some participants were not on camera and identified only by initials, and you had to guess who was speaking. Who the heck was “C”? Two of the participants were identified as Caller 1 and Caller 2. The engineer representing the applicant could barely be heard at all.

If the corona thing continues to make regular meetings impossible, the city might want to get a GoToMeeting expert to train everybody how to use that app. (hh)

12 responses to “‘Franklin Reserve’ to cut 251 oaks, keep 58”

  1. Sharon says:

    What’s the latest skinny on the old Western Kraft property.. Is it ever going to be a transfer station. We thought you might have some info .
    Sure miss you at the Democratt Herald. Hasn’t been the same since you left

    • Michael quinn says:

      Get a kick out of Sharon’s comment. Thought this piece was on the franklin grove review she’s talking about western kraft. Is this a joe Biden moment. Time to give it up Sharon new ideas are needed in albany Rise up albany

  2. HowlingCicada says:

    “Franklin Reserve” — typical hideous name — sounds like a wine whose taste depends on being in an expensive-looking bottle. If they don’t lie by advertising peace and quiet, I’m in favor unless enough of you can convince me otherwise.

  3. Rolland says:

    Is the organization still going that takes donations of felled Oregon White Then makes furniture and other things from them?

  4. John Klock says:

    As posted earlier, oaks are the number one habitat for wildlife in the Willamette Valley and we are now at 1% of the historic reserve. Someone doesn’t know the significance of such a development.

    • Bob Zybach says:

      John: Not sure what you mean by stating that oaks are “the number one habitat for wildlife in the Willamette Valley,” but your 1% figure probably refers to the oak savannah that was maintained by Kalapuyan families at the time of white immigration in the 1830s and 1840s. These oaks are not that at all. Thinning them out to a lesser number more likely resembles earlier conditions when broadcast burning took place on a seasonal basis. Wetlands and bunchgrass prairies and meadows are also important habitats for native species, but have mostly been taken over by exotic weeds, lawns, pavement, buildings, and ditching.

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    Interesting how in one sentence they are classified by circumference and another they are classified by diameter.
    For you LIB’s, 25″ circumference is about 8″ diameter.

  6. Al Nyman says:

    As somebody who owns a 244″ circumference white oak tree, they are pretty small oaks.

  7. James Engel says:

    This sure puts a hole in Albany’s claim of being a Tree City USA. Development in favor over a viable living thing. How about “W.O. Matter!”

    • James Engel says:

      I meant to put in “W.O. Lives Matter”…

      • Bob Zybach says:

        So do human lives. “Development” means babies’ lives over weed and seedling lives. For the W.O. I would say its a quality of life issue for those selected to remain. “Tree City” designations refer to active management of urban trees, not will-nilly acceptance of all trees that might sprout and grow in undeveloped or abandoned areas.


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