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Hess Creek development reaches final stage

Twenty-seven houses will round out subdivision at more than 100 new homes

The Highlands at Hess Creek development at the south end of Newberg was not projected to be a decade-long project, but as it began in 2006 and has spanned the housing crash and recovery, that’s the way it turned out.GARY ALLEN - Coming soon - An application has been submitted for the final phase of the Highlands at Hess Creek development, which has so far brought 76 new houses into the city and with this phase will top 100. Built by contractor Mart Storm, the     project has spanned 10 years due to the housing market crash shortly after it began.

Seventy-six houses have been built in the development, a number that will expand as the builders move into the final phase of the project, for which a public hearing will take place next week.

This phase will see the addition of 27 new houses to bring the final number of new units to more than 100, contractor Mart Storm of RA Storm Company, who is building the houses, said last week.

A prior Willcuts Company Realtors project north of the Highlands site brought 135 smaller houses to the area at the entrance to the subdivision.

Architecturally the houses are planned to be in the same style as those built during the Highlands development’s other phases, with an estimated similar price point once they hit the market.

“We completed a phase a year ago with 16 lots and those are $250,000 to $280,000. I would think these would be similar,” Storm said.

This phase of the subdivision will connect the development with a nine-acre piece of property owned by Chehalem Park and Recreation District. Plans for the property have been kicked around for quite a while.

“We always planned on developing a neighborhood playground there, a neighborhood park, and that’s still in the planning process,” CPRD Superintendent Don Clements said. “That’s really what we originally bought the property for many, many years ago because there was nothing there but we knew that would all eventually develop.”

Although the park has not yet materialized the land has gone through a few uses.

In August 2007 the Luke McKern house, built in 1873, and its associated 1859 barn were moved onto the CPRD property from their former home at 1180 Springbrook Road following the purchase of that property by developer Coyote Homes. The Friends of Historic Newberg coordinated with CPRD and the development company to make that happen.

The structures sat on the CPRD lot for several years until they were burned to the ground, the barn in October 2011 and the house in January 2012.

While the Newberg-Dundee Police Department was leaning toward arson as the cause of the fires and even were close to making an arrest at one point, the case was never closed and remains unsolved.

With the new development coming the park is potentially closer to being a reality.

“It’s been my experience that CPRD develops parks after the houses are all constructed and the need is there,” Storm said. “I know homeowners that bought earlier would like it done.”

Clements said the plan has been to develop the park as soon as possible and that working on grants could start as early as next year.

As far as approval criteria for the Highlands development, while many land division proposals require only a decision by the community development director, because the Highlands project is located partially in a stream corridor overlay zone it requires planning commission approval to move forward.

Stream corridors are present on all streams in the city from Springbrook to Hess to Chehalem creeks. They are typically placed at the top of the bank at the edge of the stream’s canyon.

“It’s an area that’s supposed to remain in its natural state and not be developed,” City Planner Steve Olson said.

The eastern and western boundaries of the Highlands development fall under this overlay from their proximity to Hess Creek and Olson said those sections of the property will be untouched by the development.

Even if the overlay zone was not part of the city’s development code, building on areas it covers would be difficult.

“Part of our topography in Newberg is that the streams tend to be canyons anyway,” Olson said, meaning the areas are naturally unsuitable for construction.

A traffic study was not required for the Highlands proposal: guidelines set by the Institute of Transportation Engineers estimate residential evening trip generation as one trip per lot, meaning this development is expected to have a 27-trip addition to the peak traffic period for the area. The city only requires a traffic study when more than 40 trips will be generated.

Storm said construction of the street and utility improvements will begin as soon as possible once the proposal is approved, with individual lots becoming available for house construction as early as the fall. Completed homes could hit the market in fall 2016, rounding off the 10-year project.

Given the timing and the volatile state of the market throughout the development project, the builders are happy with the timeframe of the project.

“We felt fortunate to be done in 10 years,” Storm said.


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