City planning — Planning commission will decide the fate of project on Terrace Drive

The Newberg Planning Commission is set to consider an application this week that would tentatively allow for the creation of a new 44-lot subdivision on 7.9 acres off Terrace Drive in the northern part of the city. Though the commission has yet to hear the developers’ case, several neighboring residents have expressed concerns about the project.

by: GARY ALLEN - 44 homes planned -- A Newberg Planning Commission hearing Thursday will decide the fate of a proposed subdivision on Terrace Drive that would support 44 homes on land that formerly held a farm house and agricultural activities. Neighbors of the land are objecting to the subdivision for economic, safety and environmental reasons.

The site is zoned for light residential use and owned by the estate of Minda Hutchinson, according to documents provided by the city Planning and Building Department. The applicant is a company called Del Boca Vista LLC, represented by local entrepreneur and developer Mike Hanks.

If approved, the project, dubbed “Terra Estates,” will be served by a new stormwater quality/detention pond, and two new, fully developed (with sidewalks, curbs and gutters) streets coming off Terrace Drive. The proposed lots vary in size, the largest being about 7,600 square feet, but all of them meet or exceed the minimum lot size of 5,000 square feet, according to the developers.

The plans, however, haven’t been enough to assuage the concerns of a number of nearby property owners, many of whom have already entered public comments into the record expressing their fears and plan to attend and possibly testify during the Thursday hearing.

The residents share a number of concerns, such as increased traffic, decreased property values and incompatibility. The latter concern is tied to the aforementioned proposed lot sizes. Though the average size of the lots (5,900 square feet) is well above the minimum under R-1 zoning, they are smaller than those of the surrounding neighborhoods.

“Our biggest concern is the density of the 44 proposed lots for this subdivision, because it is too high for this part of Newberg and does not come close to matching the adjacent properties and lots that surround it,” a letter from Fritz and Kathy Graff read in part. “A more reasonable lot size minimum would be 7,500 square feet, in keeping with the adjacent Terrace Heights community, which is still under construction.”

(The minimum lot size for R-1 zones in Newberg used to be 7,500, but this was decreased to 5,000 by a vote of the City Council in October 2010.)

Morris Street residents Jay and Bridget Martin also shared their concerns, but stressed that “no one is trying to stop the development of this property.”

Our biggest concern is the density of the 44 proposed lots for this subdivision, because it is too high for this part of Newberg ...

Excerpt from letter from neighbors Fritz and Kathy Graff

“Our concerns are genuine from an economic, safety and environmental standpoint,” they wrote.

Gerald and Nina Boe, who have lived on Natalie Drive since 2002, said safety concerns stemming from increased traffic were among their primary worries about the proposal.

“All this school traffic in the morning and afternoon will pour right through there, and there is a lot of small children in our neighborhood,” Gerald Boe said.

Not all public comment thus far has been critical of the project, however. Joyce Howell, Hutchinson’s daughter and a personal representative of her estate, opined in a letter that “all the necessary conditions for development have been met” and urged commissioners to approve the application.

Howell said the property in question, which is where she and her four brothers had lived and grown up since the family moved there in the 1960s, was left “for the benefit of (her) and (her) siblings” following the death of their mother in 2006. The property was annexed into Newberg in late 2008, around the time the nation’s housing market was beginning to crumble.

Howell said one of her brothers has died in the time it has taken to attempt to sell the property.

The hearing on Terra Estates is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Newberg Public Safety Building.

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