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City comp plan work extended to April 6

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Corvallis Planning Commission action on a complicated set of comprehensive plan amendments will have to wait until next month.

Commissioners voted 6-1 Wednesday night to continue a public hearing on the amendments, which are being put forward to help the city review the Oregon State University District Plan.

Commissioner Carl Price brought the motion to continue, citing the short amount of time that members of the public had to digest the city staff report.

“Tonight was the first time that the public was allowed to speak to this body” on the issue, Price said. “I think we owe the public the opportunity.”

Commissioners Jim Ridlington, Susan Morré, Dan Brown, Paul Woods and Tom Jensen joined with Price in voting in favor of extending the hearing. Ron Sessions was the lone no vote. Sessions suggested a compromise of holding the record open a week to allow additional written testimony. But such an approach would have prevented public further public testimony.

The commission is scheduled to hear that additional testimony and deliberate at its April 6 meeting.

Seven members of the public testified at Wednesday’s session, offering a wide range of thoughts and concerns:

Laura Lahm Evenson, president of the League of Women voters, said the amendments will help ease livability issues in neighborhoods near the campus, although she voice concerns about housing and parking.

Sherri Johnson, who lives in the Harding neighborhood, expressed concerns about the reliability of the housing data that the commission is using.

Former OSU Profs. Dave Bella and Court Smith offered a plan that would include tramways to help make the city and campus more amenable to pedestrians and strongly recommended transit improvements.

David Dodson, OSU’s campus planning manager, suggested a series of 13 “refinements” and editing changes in the proposal city staff presented.

Gary Angelo, representing the College Hill and Central Park neighborhood associations, expressed concerns about the way parking fees were characterized in the document and encouraged the university to pursue public-private partnerships to put more housing on campus

Ward 4 Councilor Barbara Bull raised questions about the sections that included information on parks and open space.

The process to assemble the comp plan amendments started in a task force consisting of City Council and Planning Commission members that met 15 times last year. The ultimate goal of the project is to ensure that city code is updated sufficiently to review the OSU District Plan, the blueprint for campus growth that is updated every 10 years.

The City Council originally was scheduled to act on the new plan by the end of 2015, but that timeline had to be put on hold because of the comp plan work.

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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