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Zone Changed On Land Earmarked For Farmworker Housing

Decision affects housing proposal

INDEPENDENCE -- The Independence Planning Commission turned down a resolution that would have initiated a zone change on a property where a proposed 38-unit farmworker housing complex will be built.

Commission members voted 3-2 against moving forward with the process to rezone a 3.7-acre parcel at 30 S. Gun Club Road. The action could have disrupted project plans by the owner of the land, the Woodburn-based Farmworker Housing Development Corporation.

Officials considered the matter after a resident who lives across from the plot aired concerns at an Aug. 2 commission meeting that the complex would create overcrowding, traffic congestion and other adverse conditions on Gun Club Road.

The land can be developed for 12 units per acre under its current medium-density residential (RM) zoning classification.

Approving the action would have triggered the process of changing that to a low-density residential (RS) zone, which allows six units per acre. The plot received its RM status when it was annexed into the city last year.

FHDC and its project development consultants, CASA of Oregon, decided to alter their site plan and reduce the number of units on the parcel from 42 to 38, after citizens complained about the proposed complex at a July hearing.

"I was surprised that there was a zone change request, especially since we went through the community meeting process, took feedback, then changed the plan," said Julie Garver of CASA in a phone interview.

Commissioner Andy Scott, who favored rezoning, said he had been concerned about the impact of adding multi-family housing on Gun Club Road since last year, when the previous owner of the property attempted to build an apartment complex on the site.

Commissioner Jerry Hoffman, who voted against the motion, said city staff informed him that traffic on the road wasn't even close to capacity.

He also said he was impressed that FHDC wanted to incorporate traffic calming devices on Gun Club into the project and that the organization would be seeking out local contractors to handle construction.

"I think they've done a good job," he said. "At this time, going through with a zone change this far into the process wouldn't make us look like good neighbors."

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