The Molalla Planning Commission meets at 6:30PM, on Wednesday February 4th, at City Hall. At this meeting, they will again hear a proposal that was tabled in early January, on a proposal to rezone a parcel in northwest Molalla, to allow high-density residential development.
The site is a single-family residential property measuring nearly six acres total. The property is roughly triangular. A long curve of the abandoned Molalla Forest Road is to the southwest, the Elementary School is to the east, and Toliver Road is to the north.
The development proposal is being handled by Frank Walker, for the Donald Itschner family estate. The site is relatively level, with a small yard and garden area near the house and shop building. Roughly half of the property is in mature deciduous forest. It is adjacent to a school, a ballfield, and an abandoned corridor (the historic Molalla Forest Road). There is a small creek running through the center of the property. As is typical of the area, there are wetlands with soils that are seasonally saturated with water.As shown on the Google satellite image below, the property (orange ellipse) is one of the only natural and forested areas within walking distance of hundreds of densely packed homes to the north (large area outlined in red). There are no parks serving this large subdivision area. Here are three close-up satellite views, from Google Maps. The first shows the home/garden in the northern portion of the property. The second shows most of the southern portion of the property. The third shows the western half of the apartment complex to the north, in the middle of the large Molalla subdivision area; this is what high density development would look like, if the City approves the zoning change.:
A Better Plan
The location and natural qualities of this property make it an absolute no-brainer for the City of Molalla. We need to develop this property as a valuable asset for this area: a corridor trail to serve the community with parks, recreation, and wildlife habitat. City of Molalla should work toward acquiring most or all of this property. Generous grants are available (from both state and federal sources), but the City needs to provide the see money for those grants. Thus, the City should NOT be granting property tax emptions, as the City Council did on January 28th for ‘Pacific Fibre Products, Inc.’.
The City’s goals should be to:
- preserve the forest area as a refreshing wildlife habitat and nature-viewing area;
- develop picnic and play facilities on the non-forested southern portion of the parcel;
- make minimal improvements to the Molalla Forest Road between Highway 213 and Highway 211, as a bicycle and pedestrian corridor, to accommodate the recreational needs of area residents;
- over time, pursue expansion of this bicycle and pedestrian corridor, using the historic Molalla Forest Road, all the way to the Molalla River Recreation Area.
- Notice of 1/7/2015 Hearing for Re-Zoning Property (P44-2014) — 3-pages total. A 2-page notice and a 1-page exhibit, showing tax lots, zoning, and dimensions.
- Staff Report – Application to Re-Zone Property — 5-pages total. Includes Overview/Background, Public Notice, and Staff Findings (which appear to be thin and superficial).
- Wetland Map & Assessment — 3-pages total. From the Molalla Riparian Inventory, with fieldwork by Pacific Habitat Services on 6/6/2001.
- FUNDING: Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — Generous matching grants provided for property acquisition and development projects. The funds come from federal oil-leases, and the grants are administered by each state.
- FUNDING: Local Government Grant Program — the state provides millions each year to cities, counties, and regional authorities. The funds come from Lottery.
- 2/5/2015 Meeting Agenda — for Molalla Planning Commission