Categorized | River Road News

Yes, we can, if we plan

Posted on 07 November 2012 by admin

A 216-unit apartment for moderate income is proposed for the River Road area; the historic heart of the neighborhood

By Carleen Reilly
For the Tribune

RIVER ROAD – The River Road neighbors are learning about a proposal for a 216-apartment moderate-income development by an out-of-state developer. The property is located to the west of River Road on a little less than eight acres of land that is considered to be the historic heart of our neighborhood. The surrounding neighbors have a long list of concerns: height of apartment buildings, how close they are to property boundaries and infringement on neighbors‘ privacy, why 262 parking spaces are planned, how on-site storm water will be managed with so much asphalt and buildings, what landscaping will be used and whether they will refrain from using herbicides, what will happen to the crime rate, how many children will be added to our schools and what impact it will have, whether tax credits will be issued, why urban agricultural land is being developed into residential housing, and whether traffic on River Road and surrounding streets will be hazardous to bikers and pedestrians.
Other layers of concern have also emerged. Neighbors have expectations that they can control what is built in the neighborhood. But it turns out that the developer has met all of the requirements of the Metro Plan and the City of Eugene codes. Because the developer has complied with all the rules, there seems to be no opportunity for neighbors to have a hearing in front of the Planning Commission or the City Council.
Neighbors are suspicious that Eugene is trying to ram this proposal through or that the River Road Community Organization is somehow in league with the City. People are mad at the developer and at the owner of the property. However, it mostly comes down to the fact that over 30 years ago, the property was designated medium-density residential in the Metro Plan and rezoned R-2 in 2008 after a public hearing. This would allow a developer to build up to 326 apartments on this particular parcel if it is used for controlled income and rent projects.
A refinement plan or area plan is needed with codes to define what can and can‘t be built in our neighborhood if we are going to have any control over our destiny. Various opportunities to put in overlay zones or establish codes for our neighborhood have been lost. But we have a new opportunity through Envision Eugene to define our land use with area planning. Eugene is offering area planning help to three neighborhoods.
‘Area Planning,’ as defined in the Envision Eugene recommendation, “considers all the features, natural and built, of special places along key transit corridors and in core commercial areas, to create a vision that fosters vital and sustainable redevelopment in areas with potential to become active centers for living, working, and shopping.?
As the Santa Clara-River Road Outreach and Learning (SCRROL) project transitions to Santa Clara-River Road Implementation Planning Team (SCRRIPT), we are looking for team members to work on our area plans. We may get underway on our long-term future after the first of the year.
It has been said that there are two times the public can contest a land use issue: too early or too late. If we don‘t influence how the rules are made early, it will be too late to change those rules when a specific project is seeking approval.
Early is better. Yes, we can have more control of our neighborhood environment if we plan. If we don‘t plan, we suffer the consequences of others making decisions that affect our lives and our properties for decades.
Get involved by reading the SCRROL Report and Recommendations at www.scrrol.org. For more information, contact Jerry Finigan, SCRROL Chair, at jerry@scrrol.org or Carleen Reilly at carleen@scrrol.org.

Carleen Reilly, Co-Chair
River Road Community Org.
riverroadcommunityorganization@gmail.com

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