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Developer demands approval, no hearing.

Byline: Karen McCowan The Register-Guard

COTTAGE GROVE - Saying that city officials blew their deadline, a developer seeking to build the largest subdivision in this city's history has asked a Lane County Circuit Court judge to compel Cottage Grove to approve the project without a public hearing before the City Council.

Todd Alberts, who has proposed a 250-unit development on the west slope of Mount David here, filed a petition for alternative writ of mandamus Monday afternoon, just hours before a scheduled public hearing on the matter.

Alberts' petition contends that the city failed to take action on his application within the 120-day time limit established by Oregon land use law. It also argues that the court should throw out some of the 29 conditions listed by the Cottage Grove Planning Commission when it voted last month to recommend city approval of the development.

The petition alleges that the conditions in question would violate state land use goals by "discouraging needed housing through unreasonable cost or delay," and would illegally require dedications and improvements disproportionate to the subdivision's impact.

News of the petition angered residents who packed the City Council chamber for the Monday night hearing. The city did not have time to notify the public that the hearing had been canceled at the applicant's request.

Some neighborhood residents and other opponents of the development have banded together, calling themselves Friends of Mount David. In testimony before the planning commission, they have raised concerns about loss of open space, increased traffic, stormwater runoff and potential landslides.

The planning commission attempted to address those issues with its list of conditions, which included creating a stormwater retention corridor; requiring city planning staff approval of each house design; enlarging a proposed city park within the development; tree preservation; erosion controls; and allowing representatives of local Indian tribes to observe excavation work and halt it if artifacts are discovered, pending an archaeologist's eval- uation.

City Manager Richard Meyers said Tuesday that city officials have not yet discussed the actual petition - City Attorney Gary Ackley is out of the office until Thursday.

"But we're still hopeful of working with the applicant and his attorney to come to a settlement that would achieve the goals of the applicant and meet the conditions the planning commission set and the goals of the city," he said.

He acknowledged that the city failed to meet the 120-day deadline, due to miscalculations as to when the clock started ticking and unexpected delays when the planning commission's public hearing process took longer than expected. That delay reflected "great public interest" in the development, he said.

"We probably will also be working with the attorney representing the neighborhood, as well," he said.

"We still think we'll be able to get some kind of reasonable solution. In our view, this doesn't mean the developer gets carte blanche to do whatever he wants."
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Title Annotation:Government; Residents pack the council chamber before learning the hearing had been canceled
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 14, 2005
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