Plans for a big subdivision on the former Henshaw Farm south of town have been in the works ever since May 2005, when Albany voters approved the annexation of 105 acres at the corner of Columbus Street and Ellingson Road.
Originally, according to a story I wrote in the Democrat-Herald that year, the would-be developers had filed a plat for 429 lots on part of the property and said they hoped to start construction in 2006. (The story reported that opponents of the annexation had just reached a settlement with the developers and withdrawn their appeal.)
On the ground, nothing happened for a long time, except that the ownership changed, and so did plans for the development of this grass-seed field bisected by a Bonneville Power Administration transmission line.
In 2014, the city approved a tentative subdivision plat for 226 single-family lots, to be developed in up to eight phases.
Not much further happened until this year, when the city council agreed to give the new developers $500,000 in systems-development funds in order to help with the costs of improving Columbus Street to the full extent required by the city.
Now, on Nov. 9, the Albany Planning Commission approved what appears to be a minor modification of the tentative plat from 2014. As an interim step, the site will be divided in five large lots “prior to developing multiple lots within each of these large lots.”
I listened to the audio recording of the Nov. 9 meeting, hoping someone might ask about or say when construction of this development is scheduled to begin. No such luck, however.
The property lies north and south of Ellingson Road west of Columbus Street. The 22 acres south of Ellingson are not part of the subdivision. And on the other parcel, the northern 28 acres along Oak Creek will be dedicated to the city as open space.
The layout of lots leaves untouched a grove of about two dozen mature oaks near the southeast corner of the property. Protecting that grove was part of the settlement reached in 2005, and it’s also one of the conditions in the city’s subdivision approval.
City officials have said the street and utility installations for this subdivision are key to developing much of the land to the west, as envisioned in the South Albany Plan completed a few years ago. Now the question is whether the plans for more housing will actually be carried out this time. We’ll know when the excavators start tearing up the ground. (hh)