The Corvallis Planning Commission approved two applications Wednesday night that could lead to more housing in town.

Commissioners forwarded a recommendation to the City Council to approve the Caldwell Farms annexation on 16.45 acres of land on Southwest West Hills Road just up the hill from the roundabout.

Two votes were required, one on the annexation and the second on a zone change from county zoning to RS12, or medium- to high-density residential. The annexation passed on a 6-1 vote, with Tom Jensen providing the lone “no” vote. Commissioners Rob Welsh, Seth Sherry, Judy Ball, Jim Boeder, Carl Price and Paul Woods voted in favor of the annexation. Susan Morré was absent. The zone change passed unanimously.

The City Council will make the final determination as to whether the annexation goes to the voters in May. Councilors are scheduled to hold a public hearing on the issue at their Jan. 16 meeting.

Developers hope to build housing on the Caldwell Farms property, which currently is used as a grass seed farm. Although no development plans accompanied the annexation request, the applicant submitted a “general land use plan” that shows approximately 90 units of housing plus an assisted living center as a possible use for the property. Wetlands and protected vegetation would make it difficult to develop about 5 acres of the parcel.

Commissioners held a two-hour public hearing on the plan Dec. 6 but did not deliberate because of requests to hold the record open.

The Caldwell Farms proposal drew strong opposition from neighbors. A total of 10 individuals either testified or ceded their time to others at the hearing. Key concerns were traffic and safety on West Hills Road, wetlands issues and whether land for housing is really in such short supply in Corvallis. Also, residents said it makes no sense to develop the Caldwell Farms site when the owners of the Alberti and Taylor properties on either side have no plans to develop their rural acreage.

There might be as many as three annexation measures on the May 15 ballot. The City Council on Jan. 8 will consider the Marys Annexation, a 118-acre addition north and east of the roundabout, and an expansion of 17 acres by Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center will be part of the agenda on Jan. 8 when councilors review Caldwell Farms.

The Planning Commission also held a public hearing Wednesday night on a request to nullify a planned development on 0.29 acres of property at the corner of Arnold Way and Harrison Boulevard. The change would allow for future residential development on the Arnold Heights site, which is zoned high-density residential (RS20).

The issue sparked little debate and Jason Yaich of the city’s planning division said it “passed unanimously in just about record time for a public hearing. The whole thing took 18 minutes.”

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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