High-end housing project gets approval

Scott Swanson

The Planning Commission on Aug. 4 unanimously approved a master plan for Lake Pointe Estates in the Riggs Hill area.

The project is a high-end subdivision on Riggs Hill overlooking Foster Lake, which went on hold in 2006, Developer Bill Lund and city officials said. Lund and his sons envision a 19-lot project on 12.18 acres west of Riggs Hill Road.

Planning Services Manager Laura LaRoque told commissioners that in 2004 city Planning Commissioners approved a master plan for 23 lots and five common areas, which was later changed to 19 lots and adjusted the location of the street into the subdivision. She said the plan is to fully develop the subdivision in one phase.

Lund, of Seal Rock, who is partnering with his four sons, asked that the commission re-approve the property “after seven years of very interesting economic times.” The developers have gone through a variety of lenders as banks changed ownership and have had to resort to litigation at times.

Lund acknowledged that “it is frustrating because of the economic times, we couldn’t finish. A lot of things that have happened that were literally out of our control. We do own the property and there’s no banks involved as of now.”

He said that 90 percent of the project has been completed, based upon approval from the city, though only 78 percent has been completed “financially” because of rising costs related to the unfinished portions.

Commissioners and neighbors spent nearly an hour discussing parking, pedestrian safety and other issues with Lund, who pointedly noted that the development is “not a gated community.”

LaRoque suggested that commissioners consider limiting or prohibiting on-street parking and making requirements for some design standards such as a beauty strip and street lighting, which are not necessarily mandatory in a planned development such as Lake Pointe, unlike other projects in the city.

Commissioners and a neighbor expressed concerns about run-off and other impacts on neighboring properties during construction – particularly an incident in which a large boulder rolled down the hill from the site.

City Engineer Joe Graybill suggested that a cable restraint or mesh barrier could be installed to prevent such mishaps.

Commissioner Eva Jurney asked if there were no sidewalks and no on-street parking, where visitors would park.

Chairman Henry Wolthuis asked why a beauty strip should be required for “such a narrow road.”

Lund said Lake Pointe Drive doesn’t have room for a beauty strips and “sidewalks would be right next to cliffs.

“Quite honestly, it’s a beauty strip already. What we’re trying to enhance is the mountains and the lake.”

“I’m just thinking of pedestrians,” Jurney said.

Graybill said that a meandering or straight walking pathway could be created, but unlike SunRiver, Black Butte or Eagle Crest, where such paths are common, the Lake Pointe property is steep and such paths may not work well.

Lund responded that the road is a cul de sac “with a limited number of vehicles.

“No one should be going up there except for the homeowners.”

In response to concerns voiced by commissioners about lighting in the area, he said no streetlights are planned.

“If you’re living up there in one of those homes, do you not want to see the mountains and the lakes and the snow on the peaks? If you put anything up high, we’re killing the whole project. I don’t mind doing some lighting, but please don’t make me do it like we do here. I don’t think it makes sense. It’s a private drive.”

Commissioner Edith Wilcox said it would be a concern to have school children walking home in the dark.

Lund suggested electrically powered walking path lights.

Chairman Henry Wolthuis asked how big a deal it would be to put a sidewalk on one side of the street.

“It’s a big deal,” Lund said, adding that he is already making improvements, including sidewalks, on Riggs Hill Road. But on Lake Pointe, the road doesn’t lend itself to sidewalks, he said.

“People are going to walk on the road, I guarantee it. They will not walk on the sidewalk because it feels awkward.”

Commissioners and staff members discussed the potential problems of landslides and runoff from the development, which is on a steep hill.

Neighbors and others who spoke were generally favorable toward the project, although neighbor Thelma Gruwell, who lives below the property and experienced the rolling boulder incident, voiced concerns about runoff and what she said were attempts to cut trees that belonged to her.

“I definitely want something permanent on our property line,” she said in response to the rolling rock. “That wasn’t a rock, it was a boulder. It was big, believe me.”

She said run-off during the winter “looked like a waterfall” on Lake Pointe Drive, which accesses the development from Riggs Hill. Gruwell said flooding is an ongoing problem with the creek in the area.

“We’ve been flooded out when it’s raining and it doesn’t take long. Last time was a nightmare, though I can’t say it was Mr. Lund’s fault.”

Graybill said that once drainage improvements are completed – they haven’t been yet – culverts and catch basins and other features will better redirect water flows from the property.

“Once the final level is correct, it will be different than it is now,” he said. “Right now there’s a 2-inch lip around catch basins and water can’t get where it needs to go.”

Lund said all the earth-moving is done “until we build a house” and said any further excavation would be relatively minor.

Local real estate agent Jamie Melcher said the community needs developments like Lake Pointe. She said higher-end homes in the $250,000 to $400,000 price range are “extremely difficult to find.”

“Professional folks are buying homes on the west side of I-5,” Melcher said. “If we have homes available in our area, these folks would be working here, living here, shopping here and raising their families here.”

Commissioners Wolthuis, Jurney, Wilcox, James Goble and Greg Stephens voted unanimously to approve the plan with conditions: that developers put in a half-street sidewalk, curb and gutter improvement along Riggs Hill Road; that they install ground lighting for pedestrians; that they design and install a protective barrier during construction to prevent debris from rolling onto neighborhood properties; that they limit parking to one side of Lake Pointe Way and sign the other side as No Parking – Fire Lane; that they design and install a vehicle impact barrier on an S curve at the foot of the hill to protect a water pump station there; that Lake Pointe Way be designated a private street and finished according to city code; and that water and sewer meet or exceed city standards.

In other action on Aug. 4, the commission:

n Responding to a request from the City Council to review text amendments to the city’s fencing code, commissioners discussed the code, which requires a $20 permit to construct a fence or wall, or repair more than 25 percent of an existing fence.

LaRoque said the City Council had held a public hearing on text amendments to the city’s Municipal Code on July 14 and asked Planning Commission to consider removing the fence permit requirement, though not eliminating the city’s fence code.

She said the primary purpose of the $20 fence permits is “to enable us to have a conversation with folks to let them know what those code provisions are and to catch any issues beforehand, before fences go into the ground.”

She noted that there are other cities that don’t have permits, but have fence code provisions.

“What that really does is shift the permit inspections and conversation to the property owner to code enforcement after the fences go up. The stance of the staff is the fence permit gives us an opportunity to talk to property owners about placement and what the purpose of the code is.”

Taking away the permit doesn’t waive any requirements, she said. But any errors have to be corrected after the fence is in the ground.

Commissioners agreed that the permit requirement should stay, but recommended to the council that it strike the 25 percent requirement for a permit to repair existing fences and remove the charge for a permit.

n Approved a request by Christopher and Lydia Hackworth for a conditional use permit for an accessory dwelling at 1080 46th Ave., with the condition that two hard-space parking areas be included. Lydia Hackworth said they plan to remove a pole barn and replace it with a manufactured home. She said that her in-laws, including a disabled mother-in-law, live with them and would move into the accessory dwelling.

Neighbor Terrance Lindsley said he had no problem with the new structure, but said excessive speed is a problem on the cross-street, Kalmia.

n The commission also recommended that the city vacate portions of two rights of way, one in the downtown area and another in Foster. LaRoque said the city was requesting both vacations, with support from surrounding property owners.

Commissioners agreed to make the recommendation to the City Council, which will make the final determination, regarding:

– Vacation of rights of way of a public alley located between Nandina and Main Street, between 12th and 9th Avenue, south of A&W. According to a staff report, it is known as Alley 12 to city staff and intersects Alley 10, which parallels Main and Nandina streets between 9th and 12th avenues.

According to the staff report, Alley 12 is not passable from Main to Nandina streets and, other than a short section next to A&W’s parking lot, is unimproved grass and dirt.

If the City Council agrees, the property would be converted to private ownership, 10 feet of the alley bordering their properties going to the neighbors, Steven and Virginia Hopper on the northwest and Joshua Hankins to the east and southwest.

– Vacation of rights of way of a 14- by 60-foot public paved asphalt right of way, nicknamed 59th Lane, located off 59th Avenue between Poplar and Nandina streets in Foster.

According to a staff report, the area, which is in unimproved vegetation, was once named 2nd Avenue, and the property in question is the last portion of that proposed street.

If the City Council agrees, the property would be given to neighboring property owners Rodney and Carla Jo Hathawya to the north and Leena Ellis to the south, with 30 feet of the 60-foot width going to each neighbor.