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News / Business / Clark County Business

Washougal housing project draws protest

Hearings examiner will decide if nearly 300 homes will be built

By Allan Brettman, Columbian Business Editor
Published: December 21, 2018, 6:05pm

A hearings examiner is expected to issue a decision next month about the future of a huge housing development in Washougal — “Northside” — that has run into some opposition.

Foes of the project packed the Washougal City Hall for a public hearing Thursday as opponents expressed concern about a project many said will erode the community’s small town, rural feel. City officials have given the go-ahead to the project after having examined and tweaked the project over the past two years.

Hearings examiner Joe Turner heard nearly three hours of testimony at the hearing, said Jessica Herceg, Washougal city planner.

If approved, the project calls for 281 houses, with prices ranging from at least $300,000 to more than $1 million, on a 100-acre lot on Washougal’s north side. The finished value of the project is expected to exceed $150 million and, if the plan is approved, construction could begin next summer. It is expected to be built in six phases.

The project, which city officials say would be among the largest ever in the community, would include about 33.5 acres of open space and parks and more than two miles of public trails while providing public viewpoints connected to the trail system.

But citizen comments submitted to the city before the hearing showed concerns over growth in the community, the project’s impact on traffic and the size of lots for some of the houses.

Some of the lots are too small, Jeff and Shana Harper of Washougal said in an Oct. 4 letter submitted to the city.

“Small lots are not a good long term plan to bring money into the community,” they wrote. “We must maintain the beautiful neighborhood we have.”

Constance Cooke of Washougal said in a letter to the city that she was concerned about traffic impacts.

“My already 45 minutes- to one-hour commute is stressful and almost impossible to navigate,” Cooke wrote. “Large semi trucks almost run me off the road on 500 and 503 … Seriously, this plan needs to be thought completely through before implementing.”

Sally Spencer of Washougal, in an Oct. 5 email to the city, agreed traffic would be adversely affected.

“Does anyone really think that Crown Road is capable of handling another 2600 cars/day without massive backups?” Spencer wrote. “That just sounds insane to me. What law says that we have to turn every hay field into a development? Who’s going to raise the hay and at what cost? Who’s going to pay for the increase in the schools, regardless of whether at what cost? Who’s going to pay for the increase in the schools, regardless of whether it’s Camas’ or Washougal’s system?”

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A spokesman for the project, Trevor Hayward, principal planner and co-owner of the Vancouver civil engineering firm Hayward Uskoski, said the project was designed with a broad segment of the community in mind.

“We are trying to provide something for everybody,” Hayward said in an email sent Friday to The Columbian. “Lot sizes will range from 3,500 to 15,000 square feet. We intentionally included smaller lots to allow for lower-priced housing. We are proud of our unique design and the diversity of lots on offer.”

Hayward also said a licensed transportation engineer studied the transportation impacts of the project.

“The studies carried out accounted for both present and future development,” Hayward said in the email. “The engineer determined that the existing road network is adequate to serve the project. Licensed engineers at City of Washougal, the City of Camas, and Clark County all reviewed the study and concurred with the findings.”

The land was annexed from Clark County into Washougal in November 2015. It was rezoned to its current zoning in February 2017. Northside could ultimately be home to about 675 people.

Columbian Business Editor