The property in question on Butte Road. GOOGLE MAPS SCREENSHOT

CRESWELL – Nearly four acres on Butte Road will be brought into the City limits, after council this week unanimously approved the annexation of the property owned by businessman Bill Spencer. 

Despite topographical challenges posed by its location on Creswell Butte, the property at 82861 Butte Road sits within the city’s Urban Growth Boundary, and bringing this property into City limits makes it prime, developable land that can help fill Creswell’s projected future housing needs, said Maddie Phillips, city planner. !

The property – a largely forested area that includes one recently rehabilitated single-family home – is sandwiched between Kayla Marie and S. 9th streets. One of the selling points for property owners on Kayla Marie was the little slice of nature that abuts their backyard – a view that will soon transform into a subdivision.

Timothy Parham, Kayla Marie resident, moved to Creswell in 2017 from Las Vegas to raise his family in “safety, freedom and close to wilderness.” He bought his house because there was no apartment complex in the backyard; instead, there were deer, trees and privacy. 

“Why should anyone who already lives there, who bought their property based on their personal choices, their families and their futures, have to give that up – just so someone can make a few dollars?” Parham said during open comment. 

Linda Popp, another Kayla Marie resident, agreed. “We bought our house for privacy, for the wilderness that surrounded it. I am opposed to having multiple houses behind me or to the side of me. It lowers the value of our house and everybody that lives on our street.”

Mayor Dave Stram related to the community members experiencing these growing pains, while also calling attention to the need for this type of development. 

“Part of the quandary is that we all have emotions here about our small town that keeps growing,” he said. “When I moved here, there were 1,700 people; we’ve tripled that now population-wise. Places I remember walking, where there were just open fields, where my child rode his bicycle on First Street, are all filled up with houses now. That’s part of the discomfort I have.”

But as the City’s population continues, the need for residential land becomes more evident, Phillips said, and Stram said the City had to accommodate that growth.

“That very spot (on Kayla Marie) that you’re living on now was bare land 20 years ago, until someone annexed it,” Stram said. “Now we have beautiful homes there. That’s the same process this applicant is wanting to do.”

Councilor Alonzo Costilla said that years ago, he was in the same position as those now living on Kayla Marie, and found himself at a city council meeting protesting annexation near his property. 

“I feel your pain. We went through that process that you guys are going through … I sat right where you are sitting,” Costilla said. “But now that I’ve been on council, have learned about land use and all the criteria that we have to meet, I see the need for this. We need the space, but it’s not an easy decision to make.”

While no additional development proposals have been made, rezoning will provide the developer, Nathan Marple, ample opportunity to develop the property to urban density. The property will be rezoned from an Agriculture, Grazing and Timber Raising District to Low-Density Residential District (RL), allowing up to 16.4 dwelling units per acre; that’s potentially 60 units on this chunk property. 

“Our low-density zone is in a broad range. It’s pretty unique for a small city, and there is a lot of flexibility in that,” Phillips said, noting that there may be some opportunity for a variety of housing within that low-density zoning designation.

“What we’re seeing now is the market influencing the decision about how that land is utilized, because there’s a limited quantity of it,” she said, adding that through anecdotal conversations with Marple, the property is likely to include some detached houses, like cottage accessory dwelling units. 

The City will take as much as it can get within its urban growth boundaries, as it will have to account for the expected population growth – approximately 2,020 more people – within the next 20 years. The Creswell Housing Needs Analysis projected through 2039 reflects a need for 849 additional housing units to accommodate forecasted population growth. That analysis noted a need for roughly 112 single-family dwelling units, requiring roughly 27 acres of land.

Safety concerns have been raised on Butte Road, and all residents who made comments urged that street upgrades be a top priority if the property is developed.

Zane Butler, a Kayla Marie resident, wrote to council expressing his displeasure for the annexation. He also expressed concern about the increased traffic on Butte Road that would come with redevelopment, noting that “the road is arguably in worse condition than any other roads in the City.”

“There should be serious consideration of repaving the road and putting in sidewalks in order to make ‘The Friendly City’ even more family and pedestrian friendly,” Butler wrote.

With the annexation, the property will subsequently need to be connected to “key urban services” first and foremost, which includes water, sanitary sewer, storm drainage and streets, and will be Spencer’s responsibility to do so within one year.