Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center’s expansion plan passed a key hurdle Wednesday.
The Corvallis Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the City Council approve the hospital’s proposal, which calls for annexing 17.3 acres of land into the city limits. The annexation plan, if backed by the council, would go to the voters in May.
The Planning Commission voted 6-0 on the three pieces of the proposal: the annexation, a comprehensive plan map change and a zone change. The zone change, if it goes into place, would allow the hospital to expand its campus to the north in three office buildings plus additional parking.
Nobody spoke in favor or against the plan during public testimony. One resident, Sue Powell, gave neutral testimony in which she expressed concerns that neighbors have about traffic safety in the region; Powell worried those concerns could be exacerbated if more cars use Northwest Satinwood Street going to and from the hospital campus.
The Planning Commission also was considering two other annexation proposals in a meeting at the downtown fire station that started at 5:30 p.m., 90 minutes earlier than the commission normally meets.
Commissioners held a two-hour public hearing on the Caldwell Farms Annexation, which would add 16.45 acres south of West Hills Road to the city’s stock of land. Developers hope to build housing on the site, which is currently being used as a grass seed farm. Because of requests from residents to hold the record open, commissioners did not deliberate on Caldwell Farms. They are scheduled to do so Dec. 20, with those wishing to add to the record facing a deadline of 5 p.m. Dec. 13 to do so to email@example.com.
At the Gazette-Times' deadline, the commission was deliberating on a third proposal, the Marys Annexation, which would add more than 118 acres and perhaps more than 1,000 units of housing into the city.
The Caldwell Farms proposal drew strong opposition from neighbors. A total of 10 individuals either testified or ceded their time to others. Key concerns raised by the neighbors 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.
“This is not a strategic, orderly way to develop,” said Lester Taylor. “It’s like trying to make a sheet cake doing the middle first. Now is the time to pause. (The land) isn’t going anywhere. This is haphazard, patchwork development that the Vision 2020 plan was designed to avoid.”
Corvallis’ voter-approved annexations process remains in legal limbo. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill into law in March 2016 that limited voter-approved land acquisitions, but Corvallis, Philomath and the League of Oregon Cities have teamed up on a legal challenge to the new law, claiming that it is a violation of the “home rule” aspect of the city charter.
Corvallis is continuing to use its process, which refers annexations to the voters, while the legal process plays out.