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Project will get a unified plan

Property near Home Depot would become mixed-use development

By Cindy Yingst, Friday, May 11, 2018

A large chunk of vacant land near Home Depot could be the perfect spot for a commercial center with a singular design concept.

“Whatever happens here is going to be a benefit to the community,” said Ken Yuill, one of 22 property owners who’d like to see their land and the land around them develop in an orderly way.

They’ve approached the city about changing the zoning on the various parcels to commercial mixed-use, which would allow a combination of houses, apartments, businesses and other commercial ventures. Currently it is zoned R10, for single-family homes on mid-sized lots.

Last week, the city applied for a state grant to help design a unified project.

“It’s a program I’ve used for the last 20 years,” Kevin Cronin, Warrenton’s interim planning director, said of the Transportation and Growth Management Quick Response Program grant.

The project is between Highway 101 and Alternate Highway 101, roughly between Ocean Crest Chevrolet and Home Depot.

The idea for the “Spur 104” project, as Yuill calls it, stems from the 1990s, when the area’s property owners petitioned the city to extend the sewer to their neighborhood. Residents and the city split the costs and, once the sewer was put in, it opened the area for new development, including Home Depot, Warrenton Highlands and Lum’s Auto.

“We need new water lines; we have gravel streets, no street lights or sidewalks,” Yuill said. “We’ve been in a wait-and-see attitude. Neighbors would ask me what’s going on. When Walmart finally started breaking ground it was time to look at what was going to happen in the area.”

Letters were sent to all the property owners asking what they wanted to see in the area and only one said they’d like to keep it the way it is, Yuill said.

The area is part of the city’s urban renewal district and may be eligible for some funds to kick start some of the development. Already a traffic analysis has been done.

What do the residents want to see built?

“Exactly what commercial mixed-use is designed for … a mix of items,” Yuill said. “The real interesting thing about this, is that it’s out of the flood plain, out of the tsunami zone, and has drainage on all sides. It’s not like so much of Warrenton where you wonder where the water’s going to go.”

The state program provides grants to help cities and property owners design something that works together visually and with the transportation system. The future project would be easy to navigate by foot, bicycle and bus.

To qualify, the city, Oregon Department of Transportation and the property owners must support the transportation and growth management concept, the project must tie in to and improve the local transportation system, it must be ready to build within three years and have a local sponsor, in this case, the city.

“It will be a number of months before we’ll be able to get under way,” Cronin said.

Grants typically are used to complete concept plans or master plans that will guide whomever develops the parcel.

Yuill, who is the chief proponent, serves on the city’s Planning Commission. Commissioner Rick Newton asked whether he would receive any benefit from the grant.

“The city receives the benefit,” Cronin responded. “The final product we’ll get is a concept plan. There is no special treatment that any other resident of this city couldn’t get.”

Mayor Henry Balensifer lauded the effort.

“So many times we’re ‘spot planning,’ which has created a lot of headaches and some claims of favoritism,” Balensifer said. “Having a plan for an area and having a public process for that is much better.”

Yuill looks at it as a chance to make life better for everyone.

“Bringing the sewer into this area was such a boost for the city of Warrenton,” he said. “We created jobs. Our tax base has gone down because of the growth of box stores. … I’m excited for the community.”

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