The Hermiston City Council approved a request Monday night to annex approximately 40 acres of land to allow for the development of single-family homes and senior housing.
The request came from Lloyd and Lois Piercy, along with Umatilla Electric Cooperative. The land is situated at the intersection of E. Elm Avenue and Diagonal Road. A total of 4.5-acre parcel is included in the annexation where a UEC substation exists. Not including that parcel would have created a county island surrounded by property within the city.
The Piercys envision a mix of residential and commercial development in the area that has, for the most part, been largely undeveloped.
Lloyd Piercy told the council that he and his wife have witnessed the growth in the Hermiston area over the years and see a need for additional housing.
“We don’t have anything set in stone in terms of our plans, but the bulk of the project will be single-family housing,” he said. About 25 acres of land will be used for single-family homes with an additional six acres to be used for duplexes and triplexes for seniors. Two acres of land is intended to provide a convenience store or other small neighborhood-oriented commercial development.
In order to develop the land, the council had to approve an amendment to the comprehensive plan map from the urbanizable Future Commercial designation to the urban Commercial and Medium Density Residential designations.
One challenge facing the project will be to provide safe walking paths for school children and other pedestrians. The N.E. 10th Street frontage near the Diagonal Road corner is narrow, lacking in sidewalks, has an open ditch paralleling the northbound travel lane and numerous utility poles within the right-of-way. The final design of the future N.E. 10th Street improvements is still being considered by the city. However, development of this parcel will trigger a mixture of street widening, pedestrian improvements, utility relocation, and other work.
Several people spoke in favor of the annexation including Ed Brookshier, former Hermiston city manager.
Brookshier noted that over the years, Hermiston has developed and improved three of the main entrances into town, leaving only the northeast quadrant relatively undeveloped.
“The entrance that lacks character is the northeast entrance,” Brookshier said. He added that there have been very few developers in the past who have expressed an interest in that part of town.
“We have an opportunity to set the tone for the city with this project,” he said. “It’s not an easy place to develop. This will take a fair amount of courage.”
Hermiston resident Eric Reise also encouraged the council to approve the annexation.
“I’m excited about this opportunity,” he said. “This will be another desirable neighborhood.”