CORVALLIS — Samaritan Health Services has temporarily withdrawn its application to annex land north of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.
Samaritan originally had hoped the annexation vote on its expansion plan could go before the voters in November. However, Samaritan Health Services CEO Larry Mullins said Thursday that the proposal needs more work, particularly on its transportation components.
“We just need some more time to do some traffic studies and engineering work,” Mullins said. “We received some good feedback from neighbors at our community meeting, and we want to be as responsive as possible.”
Samaritan briefed community residents on the plan at a Feb. 20 meeting at Samaritan Square. More than 50 people were on hand, with many expressing concerns about possible traffic challenges on Northwest Satinwood Drive should the road be extended through the Samaritan land to Highway 99W.
Mullins said Samaritan will be attempting to look at ways for the traffic to be concentrated on the highway and Samaritan campus corridors to minimize the impact on neighborhoods.
Mullins hopes to have the revised annexation plan ready in time to qualify the issue for the May 2018 ballot.
The basic parameters of the Samaritan plan remain the same. The nonprofit health care provider wants to annex the 85 acres it owns to the north of the hospital campus into the city’s stock of land. Samaritan plans to expand its hospital campus footprint, adding a mixture of specialty services, outpatient services, family health and mental health services and conference space on 17 acres.
Housing is planned for about 55 of the acres. Residential construction is part of the plan, Mullins said, because Samaritan plans to use the revenue from the housing to help pay for the medical facilities.
Samaritan still is talking with the city, Mullins said, on a plan to swap about 4 acres of city park land near the expansion area for a similar amount of land in the wooded north of the Samaritan property.
Also, Samaritan is requesting 4.55 acres of city land for a stormwater facility. The city would retain ownership of the land, but Samaritan would be required to maintain it. The land exchange and the stormwater facility were the two biggest areas of concern expressed by members of the Corvallis Parks, Natural Areas and Recreation Advisory Board, which reviewed the proposal at meetings in October and November.
The City Council discussed the plan in December. Mayor Biff Traber noted that a consensus was reached to continue the review but that such a move did not tie the city to any future action.
Complicating the matter is a state law signed by Gov. Kate Brown in March 2016 that limits voter-approved annexations. The city of Corvallis, with support from Philomath and the League of Oregon Cities, has challenged the law, claiming that the law infringes on the home rule decision-making authority and restricts citizens’ rights to vote on annexations.
Benton County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Donohue issued a summary judgment in February rejecting the city’s challenge. The matter now is before the Oregon Court of Appeals, but Corvallis City Attorney Jim Brewer said no briefing schedule has been established.
Meanwhile, two other annexation applications have been filed. They will be reviewed at a May 24 doubleheader of public hearings at the LaSells Stewart Center.
Here is a look at the other two annexations:
• Caldwell Farms: The site is a 16.45-acre parcel south of West Hills Road. As county land, the parcel is zoned urban residential (UR-10). If the annexation is approved, the land, now a grass seed farm, would be zoned RS-12 (medium- to high-density residential), allowing for approximately 12 housing units per acre. The property is owned by Caldwell Farms, LLC of Corvallis.
• Marysville: This application involves more than 118 acres northeast of the Southwest 53rd/West Hills Road roundabout. The owners, CWTWH LLC of Corvallis, want to leave 9.5 acres as open space, receive a zone of mixed-use residential for approximately 18 acres and a designation of RS-12 for the remaining 90-plus acres. Several hundred housing units could be built on the property, now used as a tree farm.