The city of Woodburn could run out of available lots for the construction of new single-family homes by the end of next year.
According to information from the Woodburn planning department, in 2008, the citys inventory of undeveloped residential lots in developed subdivisions number 229. It has shrunk with the influx of construction in the residential sector over the past two years (with 64 new homes built in 2013 and 47 so far this year), such that the inventory could run dry by as early as the winter of 2015, assuming current trends continue.
Economic Development Director Jim Hendryx explained that the city has little control over the availability of buildable lots. The citys role is to designate land to be zoned for residential purposes, but it is up to private development firms to turn those parcels into lots that can be marketed to prospective homeowners.
Its really up to developers to make more lots, he said. And its difficult if you dont have a lot of vacant property, or you have land nobody wants to buy.
Woodburn still has a number of smaller undeveloped parcels available within sections of developed land which Hendryx called in-fill properties but those tend to be less attractive to developers.
Its absolutely a concern, Hendryx said. You have these developers who are working in a community. They want to build houses, and if they cant build houses here, theyre going to go to a community where they can.
The citys proposed comprehensive plan and urban-growth boundary amendment includes provisions that would increase the store of available residential property, but it remains in the midst of a years-long battle to have those plans approved, one that has included two forays into the court system (both unsuccessful on the citys part).
Under state statutes, cities comprehensive plans are required to address projected growth and development for the next 20 years. With Woodburn predicting its residential land stores to run dry within a couple years, Hendryx said it makes the city effectively in violation of those laws.
You know, we started going through the comp plan process in 1997, and the courts have rejected it twice now, Hendryx said. So the question is, How is that fixed? Will the state fix it? I dont know what the states going to do with it, but it cant just let it sit. And until we know more, were just in a holding pattern.
The citys most recent UGB proposal was approved by the Marion County Board of Commissioners and the states Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), but the Oregon Court of Appeals later remanded it back to the LCDC. The future of the expansion remains unclear; its possible that the state could take the case up again, though some councilors have expressed interest in seeking the assistance of state legislators.