Annexation will become exclusion in the Timberhill neighborhood of Corvallis – The Daily Barometer

Teresa Aguilera, Illustrator

This illustration highlights aspects of deforestation, drainage issues and loss of access. An upcoming public hearing on land use on January 19 is an opportunity to address environmental and access concerns related to a proposed housing development in Corvallis, Ore.

Editor’s note: This column does not represent the opinion of the Daily Barometer. This column reflects the personal opinions of the author.

In the Timberhill area north of Corvallis, Oregon is a 41-acre rectangle of land that may eventually be annexed to the city to allow for new housing development.

Opposed to this project, however, is an informal group of community members who, in an effort to protect this piece of land, have called themselves Saving Open Space Corvallis.

I spoke to Barbara Naimark, who organized much of the resistance against this housing development and is part of Saving Open Space Corvallis, and she raised many environmental issues that could come from replacing wilderness with houses, especially the danger of fire.

“It is recognized by the university and by almost everyone in the city that the further development of the interface between nature and the city increases the risk of wildfires,” Naimark said.

With fire season in Oregon getting bigger and bigger, we should be especially concerned about how our living areas interact with the fires.

“[This] not only endangers the immediate vicinity, it endangers all of Corvallis,” Naimark said. She reminds us that even residents who do not take advantage of the natural aspect of the area can be affected by the houses that would be installed there because of the fire danger they present.

Pam Burnor is a resident of Corvallis who lives in the Timberhill area. She is particularly concerned about the increased traffic that would come with new homes.

According to Burnor, the developer estimated more than 400 extra trips each day which would clog roads like 29th Street that weren’t built to handle so much traffic. The daily commute can get busier and longer, but that’s not the only reason traffic is on Burnor’s mind.

“There aren’t enough exits in and out of this neighborhood if there was a situation if we had to evacuate, so I’m very concerned about that,” Burnor said.

Large evacuations may be rare in the Corvallis area, but with the heightened fire danger, having the ability to evacuate effectively is even more urgent.

There are just two summers in September 2020, the town of Corvallis has declared a local state of emergency as severe wildfires spread through the mid-valley area, and residents eagerly refreshed their evacuation warning status to find out if they still needed to pack their things.

Even without considering the danger of fire, evacuation remains a critical factor to consider when building housing.

Naimark also expressed concern about sensitive species that would be harmed by the development project, such as the acorn woodpecker and ancient trees.

“Some of these trees are old oaks, over 100 years old,” Naimark said.

Currently, the land is also an access point to the McDonald-Dunn Forest; however, after development, residents would have to find another place to enter the forest.

When considering this development, it is also worth asking who would these new homes serve? After all, Corvallis lacks accommodation and the available accommodation is not affordable.

The proposed annexation connects affluent families to affluent housing in a desirable part of town, right next to the wilderness. Any new homes planted there will be expensive and inaccessible to residents who need them most.

Nearby and convenient wilderness is part of what makes Corvallis unique and desirable, but if affluent neighborhoods continue to expand their borders into our natural spaces, they will become the only ones with access to these spaces.

The housing development will harm the environment and the quality of life in Corvallis without providing any benefit to those in need – not to the homeless, not to poor students, not to any of the other residents of Corvallis who are struggling to make the ends meet.

The good news is that the annexation has not yet been fully approved and the people of Corvallis will be able to make their voices heard on the subject on January 19 at 6:30 p.m. during the planning commission meeting.

Written testimony may also be submitted prior to the meeting to either [email protected] Where [email protected].

Poor development plans can be moved to smarter places, but not ecosystems, trees and habitats. Protecting natural areas must be prioritized over housing that serves the wealthy.

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