A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Henshaw Farm: How the plans changed

Written November 24th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

You can see the protected oak island behind the vehicle coming toward us in this shot looking up Columbus Street last January.

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  (The story reported that opponents of the annexation had just reached a settlement with the developers and withdrawn their appeal.)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)

This image filed with the city shows the proposed lot layout, open space, and protected oak grove.

7 responses to “Henshaw Farm: How the plans changed”

  1. Greg Storms says:

    “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.”

    Huh? Shouldn’t that have been the other way around?

  2. Rich Kellum says:

    It is not a gift, it will be repaid by credits the developer gets for putting in other infrastructure…

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Thanks, but maybe you could explain exactly how it’s not a gift. I may be dense, but how a developer repays the money by “getting credits” doesn’t do it for me. First they get the money, then they get credits? How does that work?

      • Rich Kellum says:

        Basically it is fronting the money so the developer can start earlier. Columbus is a feeder st so part of the street is paid for by the city and part by the developer, this money is for the developers part, who would get credits for street and utility improvements when they were put in, but with this “loan” they do not get the funds later, it is used to repay the 500k instead.

        • Hasso Hering says:

          I understand the words but not the process. From what I remember of the discussion, the city might get some of its money back if and when private property on the east side of Columbus is developed. But no one knows whether that will happen or when. Until it does, the city is out the money.

          • Rich Kellum says:

            In order for the whole area to be developed, Columbus needs to be brought up to standard, and utilities installed, the utilities for the area go thru that piece of street, all other development is halted till that happens, which means that all building fees etc are not generated, which is income to the city albeit going to a different fund. Hope this makes it more clear.

  3. Greg Storms says:

    Shouldn’t the developer have the financial wherewithal to be doing this on its own and not hitting the City up for money?


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