You wouldn’t call it ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’but the hearing of Project Shakespeare before the Canby Planning Commission on Monday night went about as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for. After three hours of testimony from planning staff, the development team and local residents and property owners, the commission voted unanimously to approve the proposed 531,000 square foot beverage distribution facility, which will house 275 employees and virtually round-the-clock operations for a tenant whom developers still declined to reveal.
Sieber said the tenant will be signing a 15-year lease for the site and is relocating the operations of three Portland metro area warehouses to this facility. The staffing level of 275 breaks out to approximately 140 in distribution (drivers), 110 in warehouse operations and 45 in the office space. (I realize that adds up to more than 275, but it is what he said.)
Sieber also shed light on a year-long “competition” that has largely taken place behind the scenes, with Canby vying for this project among the likes of Portland, Gresham, Sherwood and Hillsboro. Obviously, Canby won.
Many of the concerns expressed by staff, residents and Planning Commission members centered on increased traffic, truck routes and whether they would be adhered to and the somewhat-less-than-superb condition of some of the roads surrounding the development.
One of the biggest sticking points was the junction at Haines Road and Highway 99E, a dangerous intersection that sees more collisions than any of the other seven or eight that were covered in the applicant’s traffic study, but also one where the side street traffic counts are too low to merit a signal light. But it’s also a shorter and more direct route to 99E for drivers headed north to the Portland metro or beyond.
Sieber promised Project Shakespeare’s drivers won’t be using the Haines Road intersection, though, because of the safety aspect, and because their jobs would be in jeopardy if they do.
In the end, all the commissioners expressed support for the project, mainly citing the number of jobs the development would bring to Canby, which would make it probably the city’s largest year-round employer in terms of for-profit businesses. Conditions for the project include that the developer cover 5 percent of of the cost of the new traffic signal at the intersection of Sequoia Parkway and Hazel Dell Way, and their truck drivers follow the prescribed truck routes contained in the city’s transportation plan.
This would include avoiding South Haines Road, South Bremer Road, North Redwood Street, Territorial Road and Township Road west of Sequoia Parkway. Finally, commissioners mandated that improvements must be made to SE First Avenue before the tenant can begin using it. Those improvements could be funded through system development charges (SDC) and other fees paid by the developer.
Sieber said construction is expected to begin this spring and will take approximately 12 months, with the opening of the facility anticipated for summer of 2020.
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