The Camas City Council has unanimously approved an agreement that will guide development of 460 acres north of Lacamas Lake in the years to come. That development could include a variety of uses, from commercial and industrial to residential.
According to the comprehensive plan amendments, which were also approved on Sept. 3, the new zoning designations would include 314 acres for industrial business park development, 62.4 acres of multifamily high density and 38.1 acres of multifamily low density, 40 acres of single family medium density, and 5.62 acres of community commercial. Approximately 4 acres is set aside for open space that fronts Lacamas Lake.
During the public hearing on the development agreement, there were comments against and in favor of the proposal for the Lacamas Northshore properties, which are owned by approximately 11 different individuals and entities.
Kim Logan, representing the Mills family — owners of the second largest parcel within the Lacamas Northshore — said the development agreement puts into place a vision that started years ago.
“A cluster of jobs and housing is what was always envisioned here and pedestrian friendly infrastructure,” he said. “If you look at the overall plan, it very much is a mixed use of housing, jobs and schools and community. It’s exactly the type of development that we had hoped for.”
Michael Mills said the development agreement represents an “opportunity.”
“I really see this as a unique opportunity,” he said. “Moving [Leadbetter Road], taking advantage of the lake front, making it pedestrian, equestrian and bicycle use along there, is really quite a dream come true. We’re really happy to be here today and really happy with the collaborative effort between the property owners and all of the public officials that have brought together a plan that will provide opportunity for not just jobs, but also for housing in Camas.”
Others weren’t as enthusiastic about the future plans for the area.
Mary Vogel, a Portland-based urban planner and designer, said she supports the concept of a master plan, rather than developing “helter skelter.” However, she added, multi-family housing that is closer to the downtown core, rather than single-family lots farther from the city center would better serve the upcoming younger generations she referred to as “millennials.”
“If this plan is approved, and does in fact stimulate development, it would be leap frog development because it’s 3, 4 and 5 miles from the town center of Camas,” she said.
Camas resident Carolyn Foster said her primary concern is that the development would occur in a "green field" area that hasn't been developed before and where no infrastructure exists.
“A better use for the [Lacamas Northshore area] could be offering recreational opportunities or some sort of community supported agriculture where residents invest in the local farms in exchange for a share in the produce,” she said.
If the area is developed with zonings that include both residential and industrial uses, she said, it should include a street plan that is bicycle and pedestrian friendly, and isn't just focused on accommodating automobile traffic.
A few speakers expressed concern about some of the Lacamas Northshore properties’ close proximity to Grove Field airport, and how residential growth could have a negative impact on the airport’s future.
“It is an asset that is a quiet asset, but a great asset to the community,” said Mark Paras.
The 460-acre Lacamas Northshore is part of 1,171 acres that were approved for annexation by the City Council in April 2008. A moratorium on development was put into place as a development agreement was crafted and amendments were made to the city’s comprehensive plan, and updates were made to its water-sewer, storm water and transportation impact plans.
Community Development Director Phil Bourquin said the city worked to define its vision for the area.
“It was made clear that the area should include a variety of things,” he said. “It should ensure that business and jobs are integrated with schools, residential areas, parks, trails, open spaces, and protection of the lake and other critical areas.”
A resolution to adopt the revised development agreement will be on the city council’s Sept. 16 meeting agenda.
Note: This article has been updated to more accurately reflect comments made by Camas resident Carolyn Foster during the Sept. 3 public hearing.