County Council OKs plan for new development near 179th and I-5

The housing development would bring over 500 new housing units to the area

VANCOUVER — State funding for the eventual reworking of the 179th Street interchange along I-5 is still years off, but the county is moving ahead with plans to jump start development in the area.

The Fairgrounds Neighborhood, as it’s called, has been a hot commodity among developers for several years now, but development has been held up awaiting funding for traffic improvements.

A new housing development received preliminary approval northeast of the I-5/179th Street Interchange. Photo by Mike Schultz
A new housing development received preliminary approval northeast of the I-5/179th Street Interchange. Photo by Mike Schultz

At its final meeting of the year, the Clark County Council approved removal of urban holding on approximately 40 acres northeast of the freeway interchange along NE 10th Ave, north of 184th Street.

“The 179th and I-5 Corridor is the only area inside the urban growth boundary of Vancouver that is still in urban holding,” said Community Planning Director Oliver Orjiako, “and we are making progress to work our way through the release of that urban holding so that the area can develop according to the urban zoning.”

Urban holding is a means of limiting development within an urban growth boundary where it is deemed that infrastructure is unable to withstand the growth. The lifting of urban holding on this property, known as the Killian Property, is part one of a phased approach to eventually opening development on approximately 2,200 acres near the fairgrounds.

A new housing development along NE 10th Avenue north of 179th Street received preliminary approval by Clark County Council this month. Photo by Mike Schultz
A new housing development along NE 10th Avenue north of 179th Street received preliminary approval by Clark County Council this month. Photo by Mike Schultz

This move was made possible by an agreement with property owner Lance Killian to make traffic infrastructure improvements to accomodate a planned 200 single-family homes and 326 multi-family homes within the 40 acre parcel. Those homes are anticipated to generate 402 vehicle trips during peak afternoon travel times on weekdays. Killian will transfer Traffic Impact Fees already paid for property south of 179th to the new development, in exchange for an agreement that no development will happen on that southern property for at least five years. The developer will also set aside 2.5 acres of the land for transportation improvements.

“Finally we have a path forward,” said Councilor Julie Olson, whose district includes the land proposed for development. “And we still have a lot of work to do in this intersection. It’s the biggest opportunity we have inside the urban growth boundary.”

“It’s been a long road to get here, but we’re happy to be here before you today,” said Killian.

The 179th/I-5 Interchange area is considered the gateway to the Discovery Corridor, a swatch of land on both sides of I-5 between the fairgrounds and La Center, slated for massive growth in the future. The county is also working on plans for added roundabouts along 179th, as well as a relocation of Delfel Road on the west side of the freeway. Funding for the interchange project is currently slated to be available in 2023, but the Washington Department of Transportation did secure $100,000 in the most recent legislative session to begin early planning work. Local legislators have vowed to continue pushing to move up the timeline of freeway improvements in the area.

“There will be more requests coming. This is phase one,” said Orjiako prior to the council voting to approve the draft development agreement and lift urban holding on the property.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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