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The Corvallis City Council on Monday night unanimously approved changes in its demolition permits rules that community activists hope will reduce the number of homes that are destroyed.

Key elements of the package would require a 50-calendar day notice prior to issuing a demolition permit and owners must offer the property for purchase or relocation.

Passage reflects a significant shift in Corvallis land-use policies. In April of 2013 the city’s Urban Services Committee rejected on a 2-1 vote a proposal that merely would have required owners to photograph houses before they are demolished to preserve the historical record.

But amid rising concern over the number of houses that have been demolished in recent years — and the controversial infill projects that replaced many of them — the neighborhood planning workgroup of the Collaboration Corvallis developed a series of proposals that ultimately led to the plan passed Monday night.

In other action in the three-hour, 15-minute meeting councilors:

• Agreed to send a request from Oregon State University for a parking lot change to the Urban Services Committee.

OSU wants to relocate 26 free parking spaces near the INTO building to a lot at the old University Plaza Building at Southwest 15th Avenue and Western Boulevard.

The proposal was on the council’s “consent agenda,” which usually contains items that are passed with little or no discussion. But Ward 1 Councilor Penny York, who has been a strong advocate for the university taking on more parking responsibilities, requested that the matter be considered more fully.

York received strong support from Ward 4 Councilor Dan Brown.

York asserted that the city should take advantage of opportunities to play a larger role in OSU parking issues, while Brown expressed pedestrian safety concerns and questioned whether the change would violate OSU’s master plan because the University Plaza lot technically is not on campus.

• Held a public hearing on an appeal of a land Development Hearings Board decision approving the division of property on Northwest 14th Street into two parcels.

At issue is the controversial “rounding” issue that has led some community activists to assert that it flouts Land Development Code rules on maximum density.

Councilors are scheduled to deliberate and vote Oct. 20.

• Unanimously voted to support Measure 22-130, the bond measure Linn-Benton Community College has placed on the Nov. 4 ballot. Included in the bond is funding to pay for expanding classroom space and parking at the college’s Benton Center in Corvallis

• Held a preliminary discussion on a possible marijuana tax on recreational sales that could be implemented should Measure 91 pass Nov. 4.

The council decided to refer the matter to the Administrative Services Committee, although City Attorney Scott Fewel noted that he was not sure such a tax, which has been considered by several other Oregon cities, could withstand a legal challenge.

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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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