Commissioners hold off on approving development

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

The Sweet Home Planning Commission continued a hearing on a 10-lot planned development and tentative subdivision plan Jan. 8.

The planned development will return to the commission agenda on Feb. 5 after the developer can address concerns raised by commissioners.

Under the proposal, Osage Street would be offset and continue to the west of 40th Avenue where the subdivision would be built. Homes would be constructed at the top of the steep hillside there.

The developer, Ty Moore of Salem, said the target market is first-time home buyers. The price range for the homes would be in the range of $159,000 to $189,000. Construction would begin next summer.

The subdivision would require five variances. Those include four lots below minimum size. One lot would not have required public frontage. Seven lots would not have enough public frontage. Two showed buildings exceeding the limit of 35 percent lot coverage, and side-yard setbacks would be 10 feet total instead of 13 feet.

The developer said he would continue to work with one neighboring property owner, Gene Jungwirth, who was concerned about drainage issues.

Molly Laycock, a neighboring resident, was concerned about a proposal to build a duplex on the corner of 40th and Osage.

“I’m very happy about a development going in,” she said. “That whole side of 40th has been an eyesore for years.

“I have a concern about a duplex being in the planned development. They’ll be renting it out. I have a problem with that.”

The Sherwood Gardens subdivision has had problems with renters for years, she said. Property owners have worked on their properties and kept their neighborhood up where renters have not.

Commissioner Henry Wolthuis and others on the commission agreed with her concern and suggested to Moore that they take that into consideration as they address the issues raised at the hearing.

The overall density of the project would be 3.3 units per acre in a zone that allows 5.5 units per acre, but all of the development would be done at the top of the hill, raising concerns among commissioners.

“I get the feeling you’re using property you can’t use to justify higher density on property you can use,” Commissioner Al Culver said.

Wolthuis said he was concerned about the tightness of the homes. He realized that the developer would need to redesign the plan, likely reducing the number of lots, to deal with the issues, but he wanted to see the smaller lot sizes increased.

Losing a lot would allow the development to meet the 35-percent lot coverage requirement, Commissioner Mike Adams said. “I like the overall concept. I just think they’re packed in a little too tightly.”

Commissioner Kim Lawrence agreed and said that the number of houses in the plan should be cut down.

“I think in a planned development, there should be some designated open space,” Commissioner Karen Billings said.

The plan has open space on the hillside and the flatland below, which the developer believes is not economical to use and unlikely to develop. The plan did not designate it as open space though, and open space is a component of planned developments.

Present at the meeting were commissioners Billings, Culver, Lawrence, Wolthuis, Adams, Frank Javersak and Karen Billings.

In other business, the commission:

– Extended a subdivision approval for Western States Land Reliance Trust, represented by Managing Trustee Dan Desler, for a subdivision located west of Clark Mill Road.

Community Development Director Carol Lewis said a letter from Desler indicated that WSLRT is busy clearing ground but is not ready to go.

– Approved a variance request for Robin Shipp on behalf of the Evelyn E. Shipp Trust for a variance to the 25-foot public frontage requirements to allow the partitioning of the property at 111 Hawthorne St. into three lots. It will use a private easement for access.

The commission voted 4-3. Voting yes were Culver, Wolthuis, Meyers and Javersak. Adams, Lawrence and Billings voted no.