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Thursday, April 2, 2015

OSU college town development politics over student housing project

letter on Corvallis development process below editorial comment GT 4/1/15

PHOTO: My letter to the editor about a proposed real estate development in my small college town, was placed directly underneath the main editorial in the print edition, which indirectly commented on my letter's praise for the "city planning and land use planning processes" -- speaking about the new City Manager, the editor wryly commented, ". . .the city's fondness for (how to phrase this delicately?) a protracted public process on virtually every issue will not come as any sort of shock to his system." -- yes, this should be expected in a college town full of academics and with two large employers of engineers. It is also a political strategy used by liberals in many towns to delay growth. (See Thomas Kraemer, "Letters: Want to halt 'The Hub'? Buy the land for a park," Gazette-Times, Apr. 1, 2015, p. a9 and "Editorial: Shepard's hiring opens intriguing possibilities," Gazette-Times, Apr. 1, 2015, p. A9)

My letter, uncharacteristically of me, initially sounds just like a Republican rant, but it also sounds like a liberal rant by expecting the government to protect citizens from developers:

In the 1970s, I attended my first Corvallis Planning Commission meeting concerning the Timberhill development after hearing about it from an Oregon State University professor who was upset that real estate developers had profited from a post-World War II building boom, fueled mostly by the growth of OSU, while taxpayers were stuck paying for the problems created by it.

In response, Corvallis strengthened its city planning and land use development processes, which in hindsight has greatly helped to keep Corvallis a nice place to live.

OSU's most recent growth has led to "The Hub," a proposed Timberhill student housing project, which is currently under review by the City Planning Commission.

In my experience, even if reasons are found to block this specific building today, higher density residential housing will inevitably be built in Timberhill because its master plan has included it for decades and now there is market demand for it.

The only way for Timberhill residents to stop this construction permanently, in both a fair and legal manner, would be to buy the property and endow a City park maintenance fund for it. (Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letters: Want to halt 'The Hub'? Buy the land for a park," Gazette-Times, Apr. 1, 2015, p. a9)

Here are links to some of the government pages and newspaper stories reporting on the development controversy I mentioned in my letter, as well as letters from others: