The developers who hope to build housing in Northwest Corvallis designed to accommodate 900 Oregon State University students have offered to donate a piece of the land to the city.

The development plans for the Witham Oaks property include reserving almost 70 acres as open space, with the remaining 25 to be used to build the housing complex.

Campus Crest, a Charlotte, N.C., firm that specializes in student housing, has offered to donate 15.1 acres of the land to the city, and the Parks, Natural Areas and Recreation Board unanimously backed the idea at its Nov. 21 meeting.

The offer must be approved by the Corvallis City Council, which will deliberate and vote on the development plans at its Jan. 6 meeting.

Campus Crest also will clear the donated area of invasive species and pay the cost of maintenance of the parcel for five years.

The land is adjacent to the Witham Oaks Natural Area and would expand the size of it by 43 percent. Campus Crest said the multiuse path that runs through the site will remain and has promised an additional 5,000 feet of paths and a 10,000-square-foot community garden.

Campus Crest is seeking a Comprehensive Plan Amendment change plus zoning, planned development and subdivision requests from the city to change the 95-acre parcel from low-density housing (RS6) to high density (RS12).

The original development plans for the parcel, which was annexed into the city by voters in 2004, including 56.9 acres of housing and 36.9 acres of open space.

The Corvallis Planning Commission on Oct. 16 voted not to recommend the comp plan change to the City Council and denied the zoning, planned development and subdivision requests.

One of the key questions that commissioners expressed during their review of the case was how the open space would be used and what public access would exist.

“More than 100 weeks have passed since Campus Crest first submitted land use applications of its project,” said Alex Eyssen, Campus Crest’s vice president for development.

“Campus Crest has worked hard to create the best possible plan — one that allows managed housing growth and simultaneous preservation of open space.

The future of the remaining 55 acres of open space would remain up in the air if the Campus Crest plan is approved.

Parks and Recreation Director Karen Emery said the city is not currently interested in the wetland areas and portions of the site with steep slopes.

However, Eyssen said “Campus Crest remains willing and interested in continuing the conversation with the city and PNARB about the donation of more land for future open space.”

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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