Housing plan sent back for review.
A four-year legal fight between a Sweet Home-based real estate development group and residents of Eugene's Laurel Hill Valley seems destined to crawl on a while longer.
The development group's LaurelRidge plan, envisioning hundreds of housings units on 122 forested acres at the south end of the Laurel Hill Valley in east Eugene, will go in front of a city hearings official for the third time, after the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals this month sent the case back to the city for review.
Since Sweet Home shotgun shell manufacturer Ralph Nauman unveiled the massive apartment, townhouse and single-family housing plan in 2012, the LaurelRidge project has twice bounced from the city to state appeals panels.
Neighbors have argued that the plan is far too dense, would damage streams and wetlands, and generate heavy noise and traffic. At one time the development group said it wanted to build 608 units on the site, but now says it has reduced that by an unspecified amount.
At issue in each appeal has been how much of the southern portion of the group's property is designated as parks and open space under the Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan Area General Plan, the region's blueprint for growth that designates areas of land for different uses.
The metro plan is unclear about exactly what piece of the property it designates as parks and open space, and the sides have argued about how to resolve the ambiguity.
The development site is north of East 30th Avenue and starts east of Spring Boulevard, extending east nearly to Moon Mountain city park.
The development company has yet to review the Land Use Board of Appeals' March 11 ruling, said Rick Satre, the developers' Eugene consultant.
"We have not met since we received the remand," Satre said. "We'll be getting together and talking about what next steps there might be."
The first time, in 2012, Eugene's planning commission said the proposal by Environ-Metal LLC was flawed because it sought to declare the entire 122-acre property as subject to housing development. The group appealed all the way to the Oregon Court of Appeals and lost.
Last year, the development group came back to the city, scrapping a specific development plan and instead simply asking city planners to agree that 101 acres should be zoned residential and 22 acres on the south edge of the property zoned for parks and open space.
The city hearings official approved that proposal in September, sparking an appeal to the state Land Use Board of Appeals from the Laurel Hill Valley Citizens neighborhood association.
The technical dispute now hinges on the quality and detail of the Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan Area General Plan map, which the city approved in 2004. The map the city of Eugene relies on is just 11 inches by 17 inches in size, and the sides disagree over where it draws the line through the Environ-Metal property between land for housing and land for parks and open space.
In its appeal, the neighborhood association said closer to 40 acres should be set aside for parks and open space.
The Land Use Board of Appeals said in its March 11 ruling that Eugene's hearings official didn't properly interpret the 2004 area plan. The state board's ruling sends the case back to the city for another round of reviews. A meeting date likely will be set in the next few weeks, city spokeswoman Laura Hammond said.
Meanwhile, the group's building plan now calls for "way less" than 600 housing units, Satre said, though nothing is final.
"Right now it's about the zone change," Satre said.
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|Title Annotation:||Real Estate Development; The state remands the Laurel Hill Valley real estate project back to the city for a third time|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Mar 20, 2016|
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