Sweet Home Planning Commission OKs subdivision

By Benny Westcott
Of The New Era

The Sweet Home Planning Commission at its June 16 meeting voted 6-0 to allow the Albany-based Cordle Construction LLC to subdivide a 193,625-square-foot property west of 45th Avenue into 18 lots.

Commissioners Jeffrey Parker, David Lowman, Jamie Melcher, Henry Wolthuis, Laura Wood and Greg Stephens voted in favor. Commissioner Eva Jurney was absent.

Lots in the development at 1070 45th Ave. will range in size between 8,000 and 11,697 square feet and be eligible for development with single-family dwellings. The property is in the residential low density (R-1) zone. An existing single-family residential home will be demolished, and a new road will be constructed perpendicular to 45th to accommodate the lots.

Long Street resident Katie Vineyard voiced her concern, namely on potential drainage and traffic issues.

“The stormwater drainage system should include above-ground and below-ground,” she said. “Their proposal stated they would intercept water on the south side and drain it to the west. How do you plan to drain water uphill?”

Regarding traffic, she said, “Long Street traffic there goes way too fast as it is. With an additional 16 to 18 houses with two cars per house, that’s an extra 36 cars in a day and an extra 36 cars out a day. So that’s 64 to 72 cars traveling on Long Street and 45th Ave. Can Long Street handle this along with the already added apartments that are down Long Street, with the speed of the traffic that is already going? It’s a major concern to me, because cars do not get over and there are no sidewalks. When I was a kid, I remember riding my bicycle, and I know that my kids are not going to be able to do that.”

She believed fewer lots would be more acceptable.

“There’s a field between 45th and 46th avenues, and they’re only putting like three or four houses in there,” she said. “To me, that’s more manageable, and I don’t think that there would be a fight-back if there’s a few houses going in, versus 16 to 18.”

Community and Economic Development Director Blair Larsen attempted to ease concerns about downstream drainage effects on neighboring properties.

“Anything being built has to show that they’re handling their own stormwater that falls on their property,” he said. “Those plans can’t be approved unless there are engineers’ drawings showing how they’re going to move stormwater off of their property without impacting somebody else’s property.”

Commissioner Melcher told Vineyard: “With regard to the storm drain, I do appreciate your comments and concerns on that. That would be a concern of mine too. And I wish that we would be able to look into the future and know for sure if that would work or not. But we do have standards in place that say that this design should work, and if not, there is recourse.

“I know that doesn’t sound like a good plan or a good route to go, and nobody has time for that, but I do believe city staff does a good job reviewing applications and making sure that these standards are met,” he continued.

“There are engineering standards that will be met, and we’re not the engineering department. I think this is looking good,” Wolthuis said.

Parker said that Cordle Construction would include sidewalks for at least the street’s west half as part of the development.

“We can only hope that the rest of the neighbors will pick up on it,” Melcher said.

“Fingers crossed,” Parker added.

According to Melcher, the sidewalks “will add to neighborhood safety, just as this subdivision is impacting it.”

“Time and time again, we see the public complaining about pedestrian safety and requiring sidewalks, yet many properties above Long Street are not voluntarily putting sidewalks in front of their lots,” Parker said.

“They want someone else to do it for them, and our applicant is doing it for themselves.”

In the engineer’s proposed development sketch, the new road begins pencil-shaped then expands into a circle or “bowl” at one end. Larsen said that the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District prefers this configuration over a “hammerhead”-type shape.

“In ‘the bowl,’ I do like the fact that they consolidated driveways for the lots to the north,” Parker noted. “It should make it feel a little bit more open along the road.”