Forest Meadows is currently expanding to create more housing options. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Forest Meadows manufactured home community in Philomath is in the midst of an expansion to create more options for those on the lookout for housing.

Janet Woodgeard, Forest Meadows community manager, said the project adds 54 new home sites to increase the overall number of lots to 131. The home sites started to sell recently after getting home occupancy clearance from the city.

“We just started selling them in the last couple of months,” Woodgeard said during an open house event last week. “The one model that we have is the one everybody wants and has sold — it’s the biggest three-bedroom we have, and so the next step will be ordering more of those.”

The manufactured home community’s expansion comes at a time when the availability of housing in the area is limited. However, the land that the homes sit on are not owned by the resident and must be leased. Woodgeard said residents pay taxes only on the home that they own, not the property. But she knows owning the land is a big consideration for some folks.

“Some would rather go ahead and buy a home and pay it off,” she said. “But for some folks, like retiring folks … they don’t want the maintenance, they don’t want to deal with it and want something simple. And these homes are not your manufactured homes of yesterday.”

Skyline Homes, a nationwide company with a manufacturing site at McMinnville, builds the homes.

The city originally approved the Forest Meadows development in 1992 and construction was done in three phases. In 2019, the property owner applied to the city to develop further with a fourth phase.

The expansion is adding 54 new home sites to the manufactured home community. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The expansion project got started last year and as Woodgeard put it, has “really kicked up a notch and we’re moving along and putting the houses in now and getting them placed and starting to sell them. It’s been great.”

Woodgeard, who grew up in northern British Columbia, took the position with Forest Meadows this past February.

“The back phase is going to be low-maintenance, no lawns, it’ll be nice,” she said, which plays into the development’s decision to emphasize green spaces. “Just spray your weeds and go.”

Woodgeard said the feedback on that approach to the home sites has been positive. She said many residents are retirement age and not necessarily able to do much with yard maintenance.

A point Woodgeard wanted to make, however, is that Forest Meadows is not a retirement community — all ages are welcomed.

“We have a couple that just moved out from Newport because they wanted to be in Philomath — because of the schools,” she said.

During the application process with the city, flooding around Newton Creek was a concern with all units required to be constructed at least 1 foot above the 100-year flood elevation. The city reported no serious flooding issues since the site’s development in 1992.

All original conditions from the approval 30 years ago remained in place but there were also several added on for the new addition, a list that includes specifics on permitting, traffic-related requirements, handrails adjacent to sidewalks that cross over the creek, installing a sight-obscuring fence or berm in a specific area, being cautious with certain construction activities near existing homes and providing a location for a future bus stop.

A clubhouse, which includes a playground and other amenities, hosted a celebration last week for residents. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Community gets new clubhouse

Last week, Forest Meadows celebrated the opening of a clubhouse with residents and others associated with the project.

“We just built this new clubhouse and we wanted to send our appreciation to all the residents who have lived here for so long that have put up with the construction and the big trucks coming and going,” Woodgeard said. “It was time to do something for them.”

The clubhouse is an added amenity for the residents — they’re not charged to use it for special events. Beyond the gathering space, the spot also features a new playground.

“We’ve got a basketball court and the tetherball for the kids and swings and stuff like that,” Woodgeard said. “But we also have green spaces for the dogs and of course with the protected wetlands, that’s a nature preserve so we can’t touch it, we don’t build on it and we just enjoy the beauty of the deer … it’s been nice.”

Home sites line a street in Forest Meadows. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Plans are in place for other resident-focused additions.

“The next one we’re going to be doing is we’re going to add a dog park,” Woodgeard said. “And then we’re going to put in a gazebo over in this area (motioning to an area near the clubhouse) and put more of an outside kitchen (that’s) a little bit higher end.”

Forest Meadows operates under the umbrella of Sun Communities, which among its interests operates manufactured home residential sites around the country.

Forest Meadows plans to host another open house from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 9 in conjunction with a communitywide yard sale. Those types of events fit in with what Woodgeard hopes to establish.

“That’s one thing I like about Sun, they have a whole mindset of we over me, you know, that sense of unity,” she said. “And I like that because that’s how I was brought up with kind of a more small-town feel. That’s what I want to bring here as the community manager — that small-town feel where you don’t just have blinders on. You’re actually communicating with neighbors.”

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

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