CORVALLIS, Ore. — Corvallis is one step closer to seeing a 900-bedroom student housing complex, after the City Council made a preliminary decision to approve a zone change and a comprehensive plan amendment change in order for Campus Crest Development to build on Witham Hill off of Harrison Boulevard.
But the decision is not yet set in stone. Campus Crest’s application involves four parts. The Council approved two of those four in Monday night’s meeting, but the second half still needs to be discussed: the plan development and the subdivision plan. The Council decided for the first time ever, according to the City’s planning division, to refer the case back to the City’s Planning Commission to suggest conditions of approval.
Monday’s deliberation began with a motion by Councilor Dan Brown to deny the comprehensive plan amendment change, which was seconded by Councilor Bruce Sorte.
After a close 5-4 vote, the council decided to approve the change. Councilors Penny York and Roen Hogg also voted to deny the plan.
All councilors agreed to send the application back to the Planning Commission before the Council will make its final vote. However, according to Kevin Young with the Planning Division, the council’s decision could still be appealed, in which case a final decision may not be made for months.
Campus Crest Development says despite the wait for a final decision, it is excited that the council is still considering its proposal.
“We’re pleased that two of our four applications were approved tonight,” said Alex Eyssen, the Vice President of Development for Campus Crest Development. “I think that sends a strong message that there’s a need for more student housing.”
But within the last few months, many community members have spoken out against the development proposal. Monday night’s decision was not received well by everyone.
“I’m disappointed in the City of Corvallis,” said Therese Waterhous, a Corvallis resident. “I’m disappointed with the City Council’s lack of interest in long-term resident concerns.”
Waterhous argues that the proposed site on Witham Hill will create traffic and livability issues in town. But she says as an environmentalist, her biggest issue with the proposal is that it sits in an area she considers wetlands.
“I really regret the loss of natural features,” she said. “I’m really concerned about any lands that are developed that might be protective in terms of our water supply.”
The land is currently zoned for low-density housing and for open space. If Campus Crest’s application is completely approved, the developers would have less acreage to build on, leaving more room for open space than if low-density housing developers were to build on the same site. Campus Crest has agreed to donate the remaining land to the City for open space. The Planning Commission has not yet set a date to meet to determine conditions for approval.