By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Paying a price for failed annexations

There’s much to admire, but also much to regret, along newly developed stretches of Hill Road on the western edge of McMinnville.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

It’s a appealing, well-planned and highly functional roadway. Turn lanes, combined with the city’s first roundabouts, help traffic flow smoothly and safely. That allows drivers to more easily enjoy pastoral views of the west hills.

That countrified experience, however, is shattered to the east with a rapidly growing lineup of two-story, cookie-cutter houses clustered within 10 feet of each other. Their near-identical size and shape, punctuated by a few tiny west-facing windows, gives the impression of a long row of dormitories.

The scene is a constant reminder of how short-sighted McMinnville was in rejecting a high-quality residential development for that area — not once, not twice, but five times.

The McMinnville City Council’s 1977 approval of the proposed Shadden Claim annexation was referred to the public and ended up going down to defeat by just two votes. Voters rejected various versions of the annexation proposal again in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000, always by margins of about 60-40.

Our newspaper editorial in 1999 called Shadden Claim “the best of development plans,” noting it incorporated “small stores, a lot of public open space and a lake, along with single-family and multi-family dwellings.”

At the same time, we acknowledged city failure to establish firm limits on development of acreage over five or 10 year time increments. “Without such limitations,” we wrote, “voters are going to deal this plan yet another defeat.” And they did.

Here’s our prediction at the time: “Growth will continue in McMinnville. City planning officials will try to politely coerce builders to develop pleasant neighborhoods on parcels of only 10 acres or so, all the while following dictates to increase residential densities in the community. Resulting shortfalls in good planning may become more evident years from now.”

Our 2003 editorial stated, “Seven years ago, McMinnville had the chance to gain acclaim for a development plan that met the highest criteria for quality land use. We blew it.”

Time passed. Developer Don Jones lost a $60 million lawsuit claiming a city conspiracy prevented his development of the subdivision.

The property changed hands, and piecemeal smaller annexations were approved without benefit of a large master plan.

The last piece of long-controversial Shadden Claim won approval in mid-2017 for development of 208 houses and 70 apartment units on 31 acres. Watching it rise along Hill Road, we remember what might have been 20 years ago, except for the misguided no-growth attitude of the time.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


Don Dix

Well Jeb, at least two of us knew which path was best -- and now the no-growthers who railed against Shadden back in day will deflect any claim of responsibility for the housing situation Mac now faces. Of course, all those appeals to the UGB had no play either!

A perfect example of the 'law intended consequences'.


Great historic summary of the Shadden mess. One aspect you missed was the part Don Jones played in the missed opportunity. He hired a hotshot law firm from Seattle who brought in high priced attorneys in three piece suits who blew it. They began their pitch to the planning commission with "Just sit back you local hayseeds and we'll explain this really simply to you...". It was over at that point. Jones certainly has a greivance, but this mess had many messy factors that led to the final result.

Don Dix

The very last words of this article sum up the entire story of Shadden Claim:

'we remember what might have been 20 years ago, except for the misguided no-growth attitude of the time.'

So, just remember 'who' promoted that 'misguided no-growth attitude' and how a beautiful master plan was scraped for what is now a very poor alternative.


When I drive that way I think:

1). $35,000+ for three metal circles? Who's related to the artist?
2). Why not more lanes vs way too many plants in the median?
3). Wonder who will drown in the two water holes not protected with a fence? Elderly person or child...

Very sad any way you look at it 👀


4). Is the speed limit really 45 mph?