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The Philomath Planning Commission moved forward to the city council last week a housing developer's application to annex 9.09 acres of land into the city.

The property is located on the north side of Chapel Drive in an area east of Philomath Middle School and west of the city's Newton Creek pump station. The city council will host a public hearing on the application during its Monday, March 12 meeting.

With the city's recent decision to follow state law on annexations while the court system works out an appeal on the challenge to Senate Bill 1573 by Corvallis and Philomath, the issue will not go before the voting public.

Millersburg Land & Development is the applicant, the same developer that had previously attempted to annex 159 acres into the city, most recently failing in the November 2016 election. Owners Adam Lowther and Deana Lowther signed paperwork that consents to the application.

Mark Grenz, of Multi Tech Engineering Services out of Salem, was at the meeting to give a brief applicant report and to answer questions.

"It's a logical piece for our group to sandwich together with the other small parcel to have in order to get that property into the city and to bring development forward through another application with you," Grenz told the commission.

If the annexation is ultimately approved by the council, the 9.09 acres would be combined with a strip of land located just to the west that is already in the city limits. To be zoned as low-density residential, the two properties combined could create up to 52 new home sites.

The 33-minute public hearing at the planning commission meeting attracted no public testimony and the city received no comments by the time the staff report was written.

Among the questions brought up by commissioners, they were basically issues that city manager Chris Workman said would be answered during the review of the development application. One of those concerns involved requirements involving public park space. Grenz said that is to be determined but a possibility could be through connectivity to the existing and nearby city park.

The property was placed within the city's urban growth boundary more than 20 years ago. Therefore, Workman said determining factors on approval come down to if it's the appropriate time to annex the property, if the application is complete and if the necessary infrastructure is in place.

Workman said the application was complete and the annexation meets applicable criteria identified in city code.

"Staff and the city engineer have identified the need for improvements or upgrades to the current water and sewer systems that will be necessary at the time of development," Workman said. "The comprehensive plan indicates this development would eventually occur and the city has taken steps to prepare for this annexation."

That's a reference to the development of master plans for water, wastewater, transportation, storm drain and parks that identify infrastructure improvements.

Previous public hearings connected to development have always drawn comments on water availability and Workman went through those numbers in the staff report. With the current population, two apartment complexes already approved and the proposed annexation, the total estimated demand for water was calculated at 858,900 gallons per day.

Workman said the current water treatment plant typically produces 950,000 gallons per day, which is sufficient, but the construction of a new plant is on the horizon and expected to be operational by 2021 with a capacity of 2.5 million gallons per day.

Commissioner Gary Conner brought up concerns over pedestrian traffic on Chapel Drive.

"The county currently has a proposal to make improvements along all of Chapel Drive from Bellfountain all the way to 19th Street," Workman said. "Part of those improvements call for improved bike lanes on both sides of Chapel Drive and they also include pedestrian access along there."

Workman said the city will be looking to work with the county and has already discussed those types of issues with the school district to create a safe route.

The vote to move the application forward passed on a 6-0 vote.


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