It was good to see the Salem City Council vote unanimously last night to reject an appeal of the 14.1 acre, 16 lot Fairview Woods development.
Eric Olsen of Olsen Design & Development has been working on this project for several years. The Woods currently is a heavily treed parcel at the top of the old Fairview Training Center property in south Salem. It's filled with ivy, blackberries, and trash left by homeless people and others.
As Olsen discussed at the City Council hearing (I watched via the City of Salem's Facebook feed), The Woods was a difficult design challenge.
Olsen's Fairview Addition development basically surrounds The Woods. Olsen became interested in the 14 acres when he realized that the owners of the property wanted to develop it, and if he didn't do this, someone else would take control of The Woods and possibly do things with it that weren't desirable for the people who live in Fairview Addition.
So what he came up with was a way to save most of the trees and allow public access to the property by having only 16 lots on the 14 acres -- with the lot sizes ranging from .3 acre to 1.1 acre. Here's a map from the Fairview Woods Refinement Plan.
Download Fairview Woods Refinement Plan
The green dots are trees. The white rectangles are illustrative home sites. The black lines are the private roads in The Woods. Olsen explained that the roads need to be private because if they were public and built to City of Salem standards, their width would require many more trees to be removed, along with wrecking the look and feel of The Woods.
Olsen said that the roads will be shared by vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, as narrow roads at the Black Butte Ranch and Sunriver resorts in central Oregon are.
The large green area at the top of the curve of a road is a public Oak Park.
Homeowners in The Woods only will be able to fence in 4,000 square feet of their lot, leaving the rest of the lot open for wildlife to meander through. A Homeowner's Association will help assure that no one cuts down trees unnecessarily.
A central assertion of the person who filed the appeal of The Woods Refinement Plan that was the subject of last night's hearing was that the Master Plan for the Fairview property needed to be amended to make it compatible with the refinement plan.
But Councilor Tom Andersen, along with others, noted that aside from Pringle Creek Community, all of the development that has occurred on the Fairview property has deviated considerably from the original Master Plan.
Since my wife, Laurel, and I were members of Sustainable Fairview Associates during the time the Master Plan was being worked on, I know that this plan was a rather grandiose vision for the property, not a realistic blueprint for its development.
Laurel and I have been following goings-on at Fairview after we sold our shares in Sustainable Fairview Associates. Fairview Addition appealed to us enough to warrant putting down a deposit on two lots adjacent to The Woods, though we ended up deciding to stick with our non-easycare ten acres in rural south Salem for a while longer.
Now we're interested in Fairview Woods. It's tough to think of moving from where we are, but it's also difficult to envision us staying where we are for the rest of our lives, given that we're both now over 70 (not much over!).
Pleasingly, someone who lives in Fairview Addition testified last night that he surveyed other Fairview Addition residents about what they think of the plan for The Woods. I recall he said that 15 people responded, with 11 in favor of the Fairview Woods Refinement Plan, two neutral, and two opposed.
The Morningside Neighborhood Association also approves of the plan for The Woods, albeit with some concerns that I believe have been addressed by Olsen Design & Development.
I feel that Eric Olsen has done an excellent job of balancing the goal of preserving as many trees and as much open space as possible on the 14 acres, with the goal of having this development pencil out financially. My wife and I have talked with Olsen a number of times in recent years. I find him to be an honest, straightforward, caring,, creative developer -- the best kind.
Here's the tree preservation plan for The Woods. Being a proud tree-hugger, I like what I see.
Hopefully it won't be necessary to remove too many additional trees. In part this may happen because the location of the home sites shown on the map above are illustrative, not actual. Regardless, most developments in Salem preserve a much lower percentage of trees, being denser with wider roads.