The possibility of a 252-unit apartment complex on Woodland’s east side is now a reality after the City Council declined to vote on a change that would have allowed a single-family project.
The council remained silent while voting on amendments to the text of the city code regarding the terminology between “parcels” and “sites.” If passed, the changes would also reduce the minimum lot size from 1,900 square feet to 1,600 square feet, according to information provided to the council.
These changes relate to a development project that was initially slated to build 252 residential units on Lewis River Road. This project went to a hearing examiner, a quasi-judicial body in charge of land use issues, and the application was approved with minor changes.
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At the Oct. 16 meeting, developers proposed changing the project to an 86-home single-family development.
“Technically, they got approval for the larger project,” Woodland Community Development Director Travis Goddard said at the council meeting. “They have several options for downsizing, and this is the one they chose…as the most viable option.”
After public testimony, including from some developers, the council held no discussion and did not move to adopt the changes.
The project developers themselves were somewhat surprised by the decision not to let the single-family plan go ahead. Sam Schaeuble, one of several people involved in the development, said their initial proposal had the community concerned. Due to feedback, the developers converted their proposal to a high-density single-family layout.
Schaeuble considered that not voting was tantamount to saving the face of Council members, knowing full well that many of them were preparing for the elections in November.
“They didn’t want the apartments or the housing project, and with the election coming up, they probably didn’t want to be scored either way,” Schaeuble said.
He pointed out that development is moving towards what people apparently demand, but to no avail.
“In fact, we tried to do what they wanted,” Schaeuble said.
Mark Osborne, another developer, said not voting on Oct. 16 was “really short-sighted.” He also touched on offering single-family homes instead of apartments.
“We are equally excited about building apartments, but the reality is that the community is not as excited about building apartments,” Osborne said.
He noted that although there would be apartments under construction, it could have been different.
“We didn’t want to get dirty and make people think we didn’t do what we felt (and) what they felt was best for the community, and we agreed with that as well,” Osborne said.
Developers expect the project to break ground in early spring, with a construction period of 14 to 18 months. Schaeuble said there may be a portion of the housing based on income from the construction process, given that potential tax breaks could cover some of the cost.