The annual Super Bowl of pro football is Sunday, Feb. 4. The next day the Corvallis City Council will engage in its own extravaganza, but the subject for the local confab will be annexations.
Councilors are scheduled to deliberate on three proposals that would add property to the city’s stock of land. In addition, they are scheduled to open the Feb. 5 event with a public hearing on what process to use in reviewing annexations.
A new state law signed by Gov. Kate Brown in 2016 limits voter-approved annexations, which Corvallis has been using since passing a measure on the issue in 1976. Corvallis has been challenging the law in court, but a setback in Benton County Circuit Court has led the city to reassess its options while the appeal remains under review.
Thus, councilors must first decide whether to rule on annexations themselves or send them to the voters. And then they will pass judgment on three separate annexation proposals.
Here is a look at the projects councilors will consider:
Councilors held a public hearing on the plan at its four-hour meeting Tuesday night at the downtown fire station. The 16.45-acre parcel just west of the West Hills-53rd Street roundabout could become the site of more than 90 units of housing as well as an assisted living center. Those numbers could rise because the general land use plan submitted by the developers is not binding. The land currently is used as a grass seed farm.
The Corvallis Planning Commission voted 6-1 on Dec. 20 to recommend that the council approve the annexation despite strong opposition from neighboring residents.
That opposition was present Tuesday night as well. Ten people spoke against the plan during the one-hour, 50-minute hearing. No one spoke in favor of it. Key issues included traffic and safety issues on West Hills Road, school capacity, utility infrastructure, wetlands issues and the possible combined effects of the Caldwell Farms plan and a second nearby annexation (see below) that also will be on the agenda Feb. 5.
Samaritan Health Services wants to expand its north Corvallis campus by annexing 17.3 acres of land it owns to the north of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. The expansion, if approved, would feature three multistory buildings that would house teaching facilities, medical offices, mental health facilities, outpatient services and a new parking lot.
No one spoke in favor or against the project at Tuesday’s public hearing, but councilors posed questions regarding walkability, where the employees who will work in the expanded facilities will be housed and traffic management.
Samaritan displayed artist’s renderings at the meeting that showed the types of buildings that might be constructed as well as how the new structures would be situated amid a large parking lot. No one asked Samaritan how many parking spaces there might be, although hospital officials told a community meeting last February that there might be as many as 700.
This proposal, which would provide at least 1,000 housing units — and perhaps more than twice that — on 118 acres of land north and east of the roundabout, was the subject of a Jan. 8 public hearing that drew an overflow crowd to the fire station for a meeting that lasted four-and-a-half hours. More than 40 people testified or ceded their time to others, with opponents outnumbering proponents 7-1. The land is currently used as a tree farm.
Many of the same issues that have galvanized Caldwell Farms opponents also are of concern to Marys Annexations foes, with some residents testifying at both hearings. Traffic and safety, school capacity and infrastructure challenges were repeatedly mentioned by those testifying in opposition. Backers of the plan cited a lack of housing supply as well as the land on which to build it.
Plus, those testifying at Tuesday’s hearing noted the links between Caldwell Farms and Marys. The two parcels are less than a half mile apart and share the same narrow street, West Hills Road. What happens if both annexations are approved? Won’t that just multiply the traffic, infrastructure and school capacity issues?
Answers might be forthcoming Feb. 5. Or they might come later.