Tualatin City Council voted unanimously in February to annex a one-acre lot adjacent to a larger parcel owned by Horizon Community Church and tied to a widely contested proposed apartment development along SW Norwood Road.
The vote transfers the land from Washington County to the city of Tualatin, bringing Horizon’s total parcel to 8.2 total acres.
Though the move does not change zoning designation to allow increased housing density, neighbors and members of the grassroots group Norwood for Smart Zoning see the move as an inextricably linked first step to make way for development.
“Approving the annexation suggests to the community implicit consent for the plan,” Tim Neary told the Council.
But, the Body had little room for decision making.
Because the land at 9300 SW Norwood Road meets the criteria outlined by the state for annexation, councilors were legally bound to greenlight the transfer. Had they denied the request, an appeal likely would have been granted by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.
“This the only decision I’m considering tonight, and this is the only decision I can consider tonight. I just want to be very clear on that,” said Councilor Bridget Brooks.
Atlanta-based developer Vista Residential Partners plans to build a 278-unit multistory apartment building on the site.
Last November a local engineering firm notified Tualatin residents of its application for a zone change that would up the allowed building density from institutional to high-density residential.
A zone change hearing is scheduled for May 22.
“Tonight is only about annexation. We’re pretty limited on our discretion on annexation,” Mayor Frank Bubenik said, echoing the sentiments of all six councilors. “It’s not a quid pro quo that (a zone change) is a done deal. The applicant has to go through the full process for the upzoning. They still have not completed the process yet. The application isn’t even complete yet with the city.”
The city received about 800 pages of written comment and heard from about a half dozen speakers raising concerns about the pace of high-density housing development in Tualatin, increasing traffic, and the loss of natural areas.
Three representatives from Horizon Community Church spoke in favor.
“This annexation is important to our church because this property is an inholding within our campus, and we have important future plans involving the parcel that will help us serve this community,” Horizon Pastor Stan Russell said.