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Residents Debate Campus Crest Proposal

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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Roughly 100 residents attended the Planning Commission’s public hearing Monday night regarding Campus Crest’s proposal to build student housing on Harrison Boulevard.

Many residents say they don’t want to see any changes to the land, but the city says the area is already zoned for development.

The current zoning policy says 95 acres off Harrison Boulevard between 36th Street and 53rd Street are set for 57 acres of low-density residential development, leaving the rest open for park space. The Campus Crest proposal would change that. Less space would be developed: only 25 instead of 57 acres. However, the zone change would also change the type of housing from single-family type housing to medium-high density apartments.

“I’ve listened to almost five hours of testimony,” said Corvallis resident Michael Rodriguez. “This thing went until almost 11:30 last time. And people stayed and testified. Both aisles were full of lines with people.”

Monday’s meeting was a continuation of the commission’s first public hearing earlier this month. And Corvallis residents have opinions they want to share. One resident says others complain about the high traffic near campus, and he approves of the Campus Crest plan. He says there is a community need for student housing, and it would move some traffic away from campus.

“I think this is a responsible plan and it meets the need of the people in the neighborhood better than something that could come in the future,” said Corvallis resident Steve Schaberg.

Schaberg argues that the proposed development leaves more open park space in the area than what the land is currently zoned for.

However, others argue that the traffic on Harrison Boulevard is already too busy, and adding a 900-bedroom apartment complex is going to only further congest the area.

“This development seems to really have been designed for students to use cars to get around. Because there are no amenities near the proposed development,” Rodriguez said. “No shopping centers, no restaurants; no gas stations.”

Rodriguez asked parents in the audience Monday night to imagine their kids living in the Campus Crest apartments and if they would want them biking or walking along Harrison Boulevard near the proposed building site.

“I would tell them to use their car,” he said, “To not use their bicycle down Harrison Boulevard, which has no bicycle lanes and poor lighting, especially at night when it’s raining out.”

The next step is for the Planning Commission to either recommend or deny the project to the City Council, which will ultimately make the final decision.

“If this proposal goes through, and I don’t know which way they’re leaning, they are completely deaf to the concerns of the people of Corvallis,” Rodriguez said.

But others say not everyone with an opinion is participating at the public hearings or submitting written testimony to the Planning Division.

“When we have these hearings, it’s always the people who are against it that show up and speak in high numbers – and that’s understandable because most of them are from that neighborhood,” Schaberg said. “But I think if we look at it from a city-wide view, there are a lot of people who are in agreement with things that don’t say anything.”

The Planning Commission will deliberate on Oct. 16. Residents can still submit written testimony to the Planning Division by Sept. 30 at: City of Corvallis Planning Division, P.O. Box 1083, Corvallis, OR 97339. Residents can also drop off their testimony at the Corvallis City Hall.

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