At the south end of the Portland metro area, the city of Wilsonville has seen its population double since the turn of the century. Now, leaders in this city of 24,000 say they're ready to take on more growth, if the Metro Council agrees to expand the urban growth boundary there.
After two previous attempts and seven years of hearings and revisions over the county's urban and rural reserves plan, city officials believe 2018 may finally be the year that its efforts to add another 271 acres will succeed.
The Wilsonville City Council sent Metro a letter of interest to expand the urban growth boundary on the city’s east side, in an area known as Frog Pond.
Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp says there will be a need for more housing with the 2,600-unit Villebois neighborhood nearing build-out and the influx of jobs that's expected to come with the development of the Coffee Creek and Basalt Creek industrial areas.
"We can't make people live close by, but we can give them an option of finding housing close by to those new jobs," he said. "We're reaching the end of (Villebois). The question becomes, 'What comes next?' Well, our Frog Pond area is what comes next."
The Metro Council will decide whether to expand the region's urban growth boundary in 2018, after an analysis of the land already in the boundary, and development and demographic trends. Metro is required to keep enough land inside the UGB to handle another 20 years of growth. This year, the council is also looking at whether sites are development-ready, including the ability to pay for the pipes and roads to serve new residents.
The roughly 500-acre Frog Pond area is divided into three neighborhoods: West, East and South. While only one of the three areas is currently in the UGB, Wilsonville has already planned for development in the eastern and southern portions of Frog Pond.
Metro added the 181-acre West neighborhood to the urban growth boundary in 2002. City planning director Chris Neamtzu says it made sense to include the area outside the UGB in the concept planning because 500 acres was a more cost-effective way to plan for land use and infrastructure needs. Both the Villebois and Charbonneau developments were similar in size.
The city council approved a concept plan for the Frog Pond area in November 2015 after an 18-month process that was aided by a $341,000 Metro grant.
The West neighborhood, which is slated to begin construction this summer, will have as many as 571 single-family homes, part of a concerted effort to get to a 50-50 balance between multifamily and single-family housing. Currently, the city has more multi-family homes than detached.
The West Linn-Wilsonville School District also has plans to build an elementary school on a 10-acre parcel in the neighborhood. Knapp says he hopes it'll become the center of that community, much like Lowrie Primary School has for Villebois and the new Meridian Creek Middle School will for the South neighborhood.
Neamtzu says the East and South neighborhoods would add another 1,325 homes to the area, and include a mix of housing types and prices such as townhomes and cottages.
The East neighborhood would be anchored by the historic Frog Pond Grange and a neighborhood commercial center, while the South neighborhood would be anchored by the middle school that opened in September and a future 10-acre park with sports fields and play areas. The 40-acre school site was added to the UGB in 2013 under a special process that allows non-housing uses to come into the UGB without a region-wide review.
"These are logical extensions to the community," Neamtzu said. "All of our planning around transportation would knit these neighborhoods together into a walkable set of complete neighborhoods."
City officials worked with developers to come up with the best way to share the cost of building the roads, utilities and other infrastructure like parks. A financing plan was adopted as part of the master plan for Frog Pond West in July and Neamtzu expects the same plan to be applied to the East and South neighborhoods.
The city will be responsible for off-site improvements like pump stations and trunk lines, builders will pay the cost of improvements required by their developments and supplemental fees would be levied for each new building permit issued to generate revenue for projects that may be too large and expensive for any single developer to complete.
Neamtzu and Knapp said all the necessary work has been done and they're eager to build on the momentum from the West neighborhood.
"I think planning proactively is a very responsible way to approach it instead of waiting until we've got major growth that we didn't plan for on our hands and then having to be reactive to that," Knapp said. "We're trying to be on the front end of things and I think we've got good plans."