The grand opening of two model homes was recently held at one of the largest planned residential developments to be built in Camas in recent years.
Lennar Homes has begun construction on the first three phases of the Hills at Round Lake PRD, which includes 69 home sites. At complete build out, the development will include 333 lots on 89-acres. It is located off of Crown Road adjacent to Woodburn Elementary School — a $17.9 million facility that opened to students in September 2013.
Construction of the first three phases, located in the northeast section of the development, will continue through 2015. The homes are being built on 17.32 acres that include 2.64 acres of open space.
Following unanimous City Council approval of the final plat for phases one, two and three in fall 2013, Mayor Scott Higgins spoke favorably of the project that has been in the pipeline for quite some time.
“It’s nice to see that project getting to this point where it can move along,” Higgins said. “We see the growth that’s happening out there — the elementary school coming on line — it looks like that’s going to be a hub of some growth out there for a while.”
In July 2007, when the property was owned by Loyal Land Company, LLC., following a handful of public hearings Hills at Round Lake PRD received preliminary plat approval. The plan included 12 acres for the school site.
Camas School District acquired the property in June 2008 for $4.67 million, said Superintendent Mike Nerland. Of that, approximately $2.56 million was paid at closing. The additional consideration was held back and included $1.14 million in school impact fee credits and $975,000 in cash.
The master plan for all 13 phases of the Hills at Round Lake PRD was approved by the Camas City Council in October 2010.
According to Lennar Portland Marketing Manager Melissa Galland, the first three phases will be single-family houses on 5,000 square foot lots. The houses will range from three to four bedrooms, have 2.5 bathrooms, and include 1,875 to 2,795 square feet of living space. Prices are expected to start in the low $300,000 range.
The 312-acre Lacamas Park, owned and operated by Clark County, is located on the south end of the Hills at Round Lake development. Camas Senior Planner Sarah Fox said the approved phasing plan includes open space surrounding a stream area that is a tributary to Lacamas Creek, and provides an open space section for a storm water facility built as part of phase two.
“Any other setbacks from the park would be people’s backyards,” Fox said.
Some users of the park’s popular Lacamas Creek trail system, a 6-mile network, have expressed concerns about the potential impacts of the development.
Camas resident Elisa Wells walks her dog on the trails several times a week. She was upset to hear that the development would be right next to the park.
“I certainly understand that development happens, and the benefits that more people will bring to the community in terms of tax base,” she said. “I think smart development is good. My disappointment is that this development comes shockingly close to a gem of Camas.”
Wells wonders what it will be like down the road, when park users will hear lawn mowers and barking dogs while walking the trails.
“It’s going to be a different experience than it is now,” she said. “That is a loss to the city.”
Higgins said Camas has worked to preserve open space, and will continue to do so. But development, he said, will also be part of the picture.
“We are always trying to protect as much park and open space as we can. I think Camas has a really great reputation for doing that,” he said. “The more dense we become due to growth management and some of the restrictions placed on it, there are going to be some real clear boundaries between where people live and where people play. We will continue to look for opportunities to preserve as much open space as we can, as we continue to develop.”
The portions of the development that are next to the park are part of phases four, 12 and 13. Galland said the natural forested area that is near some sections of the development is something Lennar officials have kept in mind.
“We give careful thought into preserving the environment and will always provide the utmost care to the area,” she said.
She said the location, which is home to Lennar’s newest community, is desirable for a number of reasons.
“This quaint community offers a small-town charm and easy access to Highway 14,” she said. “It is nestled in a beautiful, natural setting and located nearby excellent schools and close proximity to Camas and Washougal.”