The future of a proposed housing subdivision in west Hood River has been bogged in doubt amid concerns from City of Hood River engineers over municipal sewer access.
“Barrel Springs,” planned by Ken Randall and Cody Johnecheck of Lake Oswego investment group Consolidated Land and Cattle LLC, would subdivide an existing 3.7-acre plot of land just north of the intersection of Belmont Avenue and Avalon Drive, and make way for a 20-home residential neighborhood.
The property, owned by Randall for about a decade, rests just outside city limits in the Hood River Urban Growth Area — thus, primary oversight for the project comes from Hood River County but the city could become a key utility provider.
Sewer has become the sticking point, however. In a Jan. 27 letter, City Public Works and Engineering staff raised concerns about extending the municipal sanitary sewer line to neighborhoods outside of city limits.
“The subject property is not contiguous to the city limits and annexation does not appear to be feasible,” staff wrote.
City Manager Steve Wheeler explained urban development outside the city boundary has taken a “piecemeal” approach, where property developers consent to annexation under conditions, but the city is wary about “perpetuating endlessly” that case-by-case, partial system.
Still, the city is weighing options to annex the specific property, or reach an alternative agreement.
“We’re looking at some positive ways to bring them in,” Wheeler said.
Barrel Springs could come before the County Planning Commission for a hearing, scheduled Feb. 24, but Johnecheck said the point may be moot if the applicants can’t lock down sewer access.
“If we can’t hook up to the sewer there’s no reason to come before the County in a hearing … we (would be) dead in the water,” Johnecheck said.
At this point, the applicant has several options, County Principal Planner Eric Walker said.
Randall could either withdraw the application and re-apply after resolving the issue with the city, or modify the plan to include privately maintained sewer or septic systems.
As for County Planning’s role, they could either deny the application based on the city’s findings, or approve the application on condition that applicants “demonstrate adequate public facilities prior to starting construction,” Walker said.
Last time Barrel Springs came before the county, they approved the application.
In September 2007, the County Planning Commission approved a similar subdivision on the same property. According to a public notice in a July 2007 issue of the Hood River News, Johnecheck applied for the same 20-lot plan, under the same name.
In the applicants’ new project description, dated Nov. 30, 2015, they explained they had not pursued development on the property in the past due to the nationwide economic downturn and housing crash.
“This approval was never completed due to the Great Recession and is now null and void,” applicants wrote.
The project before the county — virtually identical to the 2007 plan — proposes to build twenty lots, all at a minimum of 5,000 square feet, and put down 20 single family homes, up to 35 feet tall.
On the property are a home, a barn and a sparse breadth of trees. Across Belmont are numerous houses circling the Bowe Addition Park.
The project would take down several trees while preserving the “significant” ones in good health, according to an arborist’s report, and would install sidewalks and two new small streets connecting to Belmont: Emmie and Lilly Drives.
Johnecheck said he hopes the project reaches fruition and overcomes its utility conflicts.
“Our attorneys are working on this, trying to reach an understanding,” he said.
Wheeler said discussion on Barrel Springs will likely come up at Monday’s City Council meeting.