What Is Holding Up The OSU Cascade Expansion?

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The future of the Oregon State University-Cascades proposed campus site is again on the table the week of September 29.

On Sept. 2, a City of Bend hearings officer, Ken Helm ruled the OSU-Cascades site plan proposal met the city’s development code, effectively approving the university’s plan for the 10-acre parcel in Southwest Bend. Helm’s decision came after two days of public hearings and debate from the opposing group Truth in Site. The approval came with certain conditions including public road crossing improvements and parking enhancements but gave the university the go-ahead to build on that site.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome,” Johnson said after the initial approval. “It affirms what we believe – that the site is a great location for a university campus that can deliver world class education and contribute to the surrounding community.”

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After the approval, Truth in Site was given a two week time frame in which to submit an appeal which the City of Bend could choose to hear. a hearing, approval and appeal

Even with the possibility of an appeal in the future, university officials continued planning to accommodate students and break ground on the site.

“Now we focus on creating a university campus that will serve students, continue as a strong partner with COCC, and become an asset to the community,” said Kelly Sparks, associate vice president of Finance and Strategic Planning, after the initial approval announcement.

Appeal

Truth in Site submitted their appeal on Sept. 15, less than two weeks after the approval ruling. The 17-page appeal questions the hearing officers interpretation of city code especially his judgement that OSU-Cascades doesn’t need to submit a master plan for the proposed site.

“Many things are wrong with it…it is now up to the Council to determine that master planning is not an empty phrase–that it means something in Bend. If this project does not warrant it, no project ever will,” Truth in Site stated in an email following the appeal submission.

In addition to requesting a master plan for the 46-acre parcel OSU-Cascades has been eyeing for expansion, the remainder of the appeal focuses mostly on the parking and traffic aspect of the new university. In their appeal, Truth in Site argued that the OSU-Cascades campus would affect traffic more than the university acknowledged in their application.

“We have established that the Chandler Avenue access would receive relatively minimal use because the Century Drive access is nearer to and more convenient for most of the users of the proposed campus,” stated the appeal. “The applicant’s traffic impact analysis … vastly underestimated the use of the Century Drive access, an issue the hearings officer ignored completely.”

On Sept. 17, the city council voted to hear the appeal which will take place on Sept. 29.

The appeal has not slowed OSU-Cascades planning procedures. The university will continue planning for students to begin fall 2015 regardless of the results of the appeal.

“While the land use process proceeds, we are actively planning for the first freshman who will arrive in 2015 and preparing to continue planning for the new campus,” Coffin said. “We are confident that OSU-Cascades site application for the 10.44-acre site will be approved and appreciate the City Council’s review of the application.”
For results of the Sept. 29 appeal hearing and ongoing coverage of the OSU-Cascades expansion go to thebroadsideonline.com.

Molly Svendsen | The Broadside

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