Highlands site

Land under consideration for development north of Gearhart for a Gearhart firehouse and resiliency station.

The search for a fire station site in Gearhart got a boost with the proposed donation of 5 acres off U.S. Highway 101 just north of the city.

Cottages at Gearhart LLC hopes to exchange two lots outside Gearhart’s urban growth boundary with the city for use as a park and a new firehouse and resiliency station. Approval for the process must first pass muster with the state’s Department of Land Conservation and Development, which oversees the administrative process. Once land is included in an urban growth boundary, it is eligible for annexation to the city.

“It will include a very close look by the state Department of Land Conservation and Development,” City Planner Carole Connell said at last Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting. “Expanding the urban growth boundary will be the test. It can be done.”

The developer plans 39 to 40 houses in the neighboring 30-acre development, City Administrator Chad Sweet said.

“If they could get into the UGB, they said they would donate to the city of Gearhart 5 acres of property in two different lots to the city,” he said. “One lot would be a buffer between this neighborhood and Pine Ridge Drive, with 3 acres of parkland that would be donated and designated as park.”

As long as the land remains in Clatsop County, developers are limited to two lots per acre, Sweet said.

If they were to come into the Gearhart urban growth boundary, developers could build on four lots per acre.

In 2015, a proposal by former owners to annex the property into the city was turned down by the City Council, saying that the property should be in the urban growth boundary before being annexed to the city.

The Cottages at Gearhart LLC purchased the property in 2018 for $649,000.

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