The Sather project, which ultimately could provide housing for more than 1,000 Oregon State University students on land just west of the campus, has prompted more than 70 public comments during the first stage of the permit process.
Before applying to the city for building permits the developers, Landmark Properties of Athens, Ga., were required to receive wetlands permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Oregon Department of State Lands.
The permits are required because Landmark plans to move more than 100,000 cubic yards of dirt into wetlands on the 33-acre property near the intersection of Southwest 35th Street and Western Boulevard.
Julie Curtis, the communications manager for the Department of State Lands, said the state received 43 comments on the project, with the majority of them advising against approval. Issues raised included stormwater storage, the magnitude of the wetland impacts and issues related to the land’s voter-approved annexation into the city.
The annexation was a hotly contested issue on the November ballot. Voter passed it by a 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent margin, although Curtis emphasized that concerns about the annexation will play no role in whether project receives its wetlands permits.
Michelle Helms, the public affairs specialist for the Portland District of the Corps of Engineers, said that her office received approximately 30 comments on the project, but she declined to characterize the substance of the responses.
The Corps of Engineers and the Department of State Lands will forward the comments to Landmark for response. Each agency has the power to call a public meeting to discuss the permits, but neither group has done so to date.
Helms said that the Corps of Engineers likely will conduct an on-site visit, perhaps in conjunction with other agencies.
The Department of State Lands has a July 2 statutory deadline to render a decision, unless Landmark requests an extension.
The Corps of Engineers has an unofficial 120-day clock that began running March 19, when the first public notice on the application was issued, but Helms said that the agency could render a decision before or after the 120-day period ends in mid-July.
Meanwhile, Landmark has submitted applications for erosion control and excavation permits to the city of Corvallis, said land-use supervisor Kevin Russell.
The city will review the applications and work with Landmark to resolve any questions or concerns, but permits for the work cannot be issued until the Corps of Engineers and the Department of State Lands has acted on the wetlands permits.
Landmark hopes to begin construction this year, with August of 2014 the planned opening date.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Measure 02-80, the Sather annexation on the November ballot, added 33 acres of land to the city of Corvallis. Landmark Properties, an Athens, Ga.-based development company, wants to turn the parcel into housing for perhaps as many as 1,000 students.