Oregon State University has stated that the Corvallis City Council should approve its request to build a new student housing complex in the open space area between Ninth and 11th street and Monroe and Madison avenues, since the City Council asked OSU to build more student housing on Campus.
Since I was a member of the City Council when the council made that statement, I would like to help clarify what the Council meant.
The City Council asked OSU to build more student housing on campus in response to the large increase in student population and the impact this was having on neighborhoods adjacent to campus. The idea was that if OSU provided more student housing on campus, there would be less need for apartments and duplexes to be built in residential neighborhoods.
However, the City Council’s expectation was that OSU would follow all the rules, just like any other developer in the city. The council never intended OSU to use the request to build more student housing on campus as a justification to disregard the rules for development.
These rules are specified in the OSU Campus Master Plan. It was approved in 2004 and focuses on 570 acres of land recognized as the main campus within the city limits of Corvallis.
The Campus Master Plan has three purposes:
1. Identify guiding principles and policies for the long-range planning of OSU.
2. Establish a conceptual framework for the campus for land use determinations and intensity of development.
3. Enhance the relationship with the surrounding community.
Chapter 4 of the Campus Master Plan divides the campus into nine development sectors. Policy 4.1.1 allocates each sector a maximum square footage development allocation and a minimum open space amount. Chapter 4 states that this is “to ensure the future development preserves the sector’s open space character.”
If the City Council approves OSU’s request, the density of the sector will be exceeded by 62%. This is not a minor adjustment. This would be a total disregard of the intention of the Campus Master Plan.
Instead of approving OSU’s request, it would make more sense to deny the request and then take a look at the entire Campus Master Plan to see if it still meets the needs of OSU and the city. This would provide a holistic approach to managing OSU development rather than a piecemeal approach where we lose sight of the overall goal to preserve each sector’s open space character.