The potential for a 252-unit apartment complex on Woodland’s east side is now more a reality after the City Council declined to vote on a change that would have allowed for a single-family project.
The council was silent during the vote on text amendments to city code regarding terminology between “lots” and “sites.” Had it passed, the changes would also decrease the minimum lot size from 1,900 square feet to 1,600 square feet, according to information provided to the council.
Those changes related to a development project initially slated to build 252 apartment units on Lewis River Road. That project went to a hearings examiner, a quasi-judicial body tasked with land use issues, and the application was approved with minor changes.
At the Oct. 16 meeting, the 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 to scale it down, and this is the one that they chose … as their most viable option.”
Following public testimony, including some from the developers, the council had no discussion and didn’t move to adopt the changes.
The developers of the project were themselves somewhat surprised at the decision to not let them move forward with the single-family plan. Their initial proposal drew concern from the community, Sam Scheuble, one of the several people involved with the development, said. Given the feedback, the developers switched their proposal to a high-density, single-family layout.
Scheuble reasoned the lack of a vote was councilors saving face, in full knowledge that many are up for election in November.
“They didn’t want apartments or the housing project, and with the election coming up, they probably didn’t want to be on record either way,” Scheuble said.
He noted the development bent toward what people ostensibly asked for, but to no avail.
“Really, we tried to do what they wanted,” Scheuble said.
The lack of a vote Oct. 16 was “really short-sighted,” Mark Osborne, another of the developers stated. He also touched on the offering of single-family homes in lieu of apartments.
“We’re just as excited to do apartments, but the reality is, is that the community is not excited to do apartments,” Osborne said.
He noted that although there will be apartments going up, it could have been different.
“We don’t want to be turning dirt and have people think we didn’t do what we felt [and] what they felt was best for the community, and we concurred with, as well,” Osborne said.
The developers expect the project to break ground in early spring, with a 14- to 18-month construction time. Scheuble said there could be an income-based housing part of the build, given that the potential tax breaks could cover some of the cost.