INDEPENDENCE — The Independence City Council unanimously approved on Nov. 12 the annexation and rezoning of a 70.8-acre parcel of land in the southwest area of Independence.
There was a public hearing on Oct. 29, during which city staff, the property owner and citizens commented.
“This project has been a long time coming,” said Fred Evander, city planner, at the hearing. “A lot of times when we hear about development and individuals hear about a project, they think that perhaps we’re just dropping this on them. In reality, there’s been a whole lot of things that have gone into this. And there will be a number of things that still go into this to actually see development.”
He said once annexation occurs, they will likely see a subdivision approval.
“I can guarantee you that we will not see a subdivision that comes in all 70 acres at one time,” Evander said. “I imagine there will be a number of phases to future subdivisions of the site. Currently the applicant has talked about two initial phases to potentially have 100 homes.”
He said the proposal fits well with the southwest area concept plan, but that some things are not completely addressed.
“Those are primarily related to street connectivity,” Evander said.
Those issues can be addressed at the subdivision stage of the application, Evander said.
“When we connect streets well, it distributes traffic throughout the network, rather than focusing it on one spot,” he said.
The applicant, Chuck Goode, said his journey with the property started 27 years ago.
“We just continued to farm and raise cattle there, and then in 2008, Shawn Irvine called me and asked me to participate in the Southwest Concept Plan,” Goode said. “I served on that citizens advisory committee for the whole duration. I went to every single meeting.”
Goode said he is not a resident of Independence.
“We look at the criteria we’re supposed to meet and we’ve just worked to that,” he said. “It’s been a long and expensive process to get here tonight.”
Joe Matteo, who has a filbert orchard in Independence, also spoke.
“When they built Monmouth up, all of drain water got piped over to the orchard,” Matteo said. “We get the floods from it now. How is this going to be mitigated with property as it gets built?”
He also asked how new construction would affect farming his orchard.
Evander said the southwest area plan called for “retaining natural draining through the project site and establishing things like drainage corridors through the site.”
That would be addressed later in the project, he said.
No one spoke against the annexation, but one Monmouth resident spoke as a neutral party.
“I’m a citizen of Monmouth and there are a few of us here tonight concerning this new subdivision,” said Marlene Westfall.
She expressed concern that the project would negatively impact the subdivision on Madrona Street.
“The roads on the west side of Monmouth’s side are not designed as collector streets for a project the scope and the size of yours,” she said. “Talmadge and Madrona streets already have a high volume of traffic and are not designed to provide a safe and orderly and efficient circulation of traffic into, through and out of a new subdivision.”
Westfall said it would be overwhelming to her neighborhood.
“I personally have no objection to the new housing development as long as it is not impacting our subdivision in a negative way,” Westfall said. “Please be a good neighbor and don’t impact our area with increased traffic.”
She said she and her neighbors would like the new houses to be built with their backs toward Talmadge, so traffic would not flow out of Talmadge.
“I understand that development comes, but I would like to see this develop in a way that is good for Independence, but not a detriment for the people that live in Monmouth,” she said.
Evander said they understand the impact from traffic.
“When you look at this plan and what it’s calling for, it is calling for a significant amount of connections to connect this with the larger community,” Evander said. “If we cut off certain connections, then all of a sudden, traffic goes one direction to one point, and that’s when we really have some traffic issues. If we can provide alternatives, that’s what the southwest area plan 2012 was trying to achieve.”