The battle over the west-side site for OSU-Cascades' proposed expansion into a four year campus reaches another milestone this afternoon, as the Bend City Council hears an appeal filed by the Truth in Site Coalition opposing the OSU-Cascades site plan application. The plan has already been approved by City staff and a Deschutes County hearings officer in early September.
The hearing will be held at noon in the City Council chambers and is likely to be standing-room only. (The City will live stream the hearing online and air it on COTV 11.)
Here's what you need to know about the future of OSU-Cascades' planned 10-acre campus in southwest Bend.
1. While the hearings officer limited the appeal to the discussion of (just?) 20 points, council has consolidated those concerns into three larger topics: master planning, parking and traffic.
2. The term "master planning" doesn't mean the same thing in all contexts. Within Bend City Code, it refers to a specific series of steps to be undertaken when a property owner is planning to subdivide land that they own. Truth in Site seems to be working with a more general definition, akin to to planning for the entire scope of the intended project (the 50-plus acres OSU hopes to eventually own and develop), not just the part in the immediate future (the 10-acre site). Why does this matter? OSU leaders say they can't and shouldn't technically master plan the adjacent land for a number of reasons, including that the current owner won't give them permission and that they don't want to waste any funds planning for a site they don't yet own.
3. Today's ruling is not likely to be the end of the road. No matter what the decision from City Council, it is likely the losing party will appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals. From there, the case could be appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals and ultimately the Oregon State Supreme Court (if they chose to hear it).
4. It will take more than a lengthy appeals process to dissuade OSU Cascades from developing the 10-acre site. University leaders say that the only way they would choose a different site (the stated goal of Truth in Site) is if one of the ruling bodies imposed requirements so cost-prohibitive that they're budget couldn't accommodate them, like having to put in a roundabout, or if they were required to use all 10-acres of the site for parking (they are already planning to use one-third of the site for parking).
5. This is all, essentially, par for the course. Oregon has stringent land use laws, and OSU Cascades leadership says they would expect this sort of process no matter where they decided to build the campus.
Following today's appeal hearing, City Council will deliberate and announce its decision no later than Oct. 15. Stay tuned for more.