Housing project moves forward

Hearing examiner approves application to turn 100 acres into 281 single-family homes

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A Washougal hearing examiner has approved plans to turn 100 acres near Woodburn Elementary School into 281 lots for single-family homes.

The proposed NorthSide 4, LLC project could add nearly 700 residents to the city of Washougal.

Hearing Examiner Joe Turner approved the application on Jan. 17, just weeks after several Washougal neighbors turned out to express their concerns over the large housing development plans.

Some of the more than 35 people who attended a public hearing in front of Turner on Dec. 20, 2018, said they were concerned about the additional traffic the new development would add to area streets.

John Spencer, a Washougal resident who lives near the Northside 4 site, said he is not surprised by Turner’s decision.

“The hearing examiner’s job was to make a ruling on whether this was legal, not whether it was done well or whether the developers and city were responsive to citizens’ concerns,” Spencer said. “My main concern at this point is that we somehow get the two cities and the county to address Crown Road before it becomes a problem. Given the rate of development, I don’t think we have much time.”

Jamie Howsley, the land use attorney for NorthSide 4, said he believes Turner correctly found that the project met the requirements of the code and development agreement.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the city as the project moves forward,” Howsley added.

Ken Navidi, a Camas resident who lives near the Washougal Lookout Ridge area, where the proposed development is set to be constructed, said he worries the Northside 4 development would exacerbate existing issues in Lookout Ridge, including parking, traffic and children playing in the streets, but also is concerned about a gas line that runs through the area.

“The biggest issue with Lookout Ridge is underground,” Navidi said. “The ridge was built on a lot of rock. We live in an area prone to earthquakes, and the ridge has two high pressure Williams gas mains that move gas north to Canada and south to Medford (in Oregon).”

“Our local fire department and first responders need to know how to shut off the gas lines and how to navigate the roadway in case of an explosion,” he added. “We should be very aware of the real dangers of living near these gas lines.”

Navidi said he was not sure if he would appeal Turner’s decision.

Washougal Community Development Director Mitch Kneipp said aggrieved parties may appeal any aspect of the hearing examiner’s decision by filing with the Clark County Superior Court by 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8.

The proposed development is located north of the Lookout Ridge neighborhood, on land owned by Ray’s Acres LLC.

Washougal City Planner Jessica Herceg said the next step includes final civil engineering design and review.

“The applicant is responsible for submitting plans prepared by a licensed engineer, (then) city staff and consultants review them for compliance with standards and conditions of approval,” Herceg said.

The development would include high, middle and affordable housing units, as well as 33.5 acres of green space, parks and trails.

The housing units fall within the Camas School District boundary

If the project continues to move forward, construction is estimated to start in mid-2019.

The majority of the site is currently used for grass hay production.