- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - An attorney for the group challenging the site of the proposed OSU-Cascades campus on Bend’s west side says the university is hiding its true intention of developing 56 acres of land to avoid a costly master plan.

Jeffrey Kleinman, a Portland attorney representing the group of residents known as Truth In Site, told the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals hearing the matter Thursday the university is skirting planning regulations by developing 10 acres as the first phase of an eventual 56-acre campus.

An independent hearing examiner and the Bend City Council have approved OSU-Cascades’ plans, finding they adhered to the city’s development code. Truth In Site is appealing those decisions.

By moving ahead with the 10-acre development with the city’s blessing, OSU-Cascades can avoid a long and expensive master planning process, which the city requires for developments of 20 acres or more.

“It’s an interpretation of convenience that blows the code apart,” Kleinman said of the city’s decision to allow the 10-acre development of a four-year campus near SW Century Drive and Chandler Avenue.

Kleinman cited city documents and university statements that OSU-Cascades anticipates the full development will eventually reach 56 acres.

The appeal, which ultimately could reach the state Supreme Court, hinges on whether tentative plans to develop the additional 46 acres should require OSU-Cascades to do a master plan.

“Probably the key issue in this case is whether or not the city should have required a master plan,” Bend City Attorney Mary Winters said during oral arguments in Salem.

OSU-Cascades has a conditional agreement to buy the 46 additional acres. Development of that site, which includes a former pumice mine and landfill, would require new zoning and other restrictions that make its development difficult.

Portland-based attorney Steve Janik, representing the university, said the conditional agreement shouldn’t tie the school’s hands and downplayed the site’s potential development.

“OSU may decide not to buy this property,” Janik said. “If that occurs, Mr. Kleinman’s entire argument about this 56-acre project goes away.”

Winters said an employee in the city of Bend’s communications department mistakenly wrote about the 56 acres while posting an update on the plans for the four-year university in town. She said the post was “not necessarily anything other than trying to keep people informed about what’s going on.”

Kleinman tried to focus his arguments on the tentative plans to show that the end goal for the university is to develop a 56-acre campus that would require a master plan. But Winters argued the city has granted approval only over the 10 acres.

“The city isn’t in the business of telling people they have to plan for property they don’t own,” Winters said.

The Land Use Board of Appeals will rule on the case no later than June 17.


Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com

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