Huffing and Puffing | Local News | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

Huffing and Puffing 

Citizen group's challenge to OSU-Cascades a bit too quick on the litigious trigger

Becky Johnson, vice president of Oregon State University-Cascades, says she wants to be a good neighbor. As the lead proponent for the university's expansion to a full-service, four-year college, that sentiment has placed her on the frontline with neighbors. And, since last April, the university has convened a board of community members the school calls the Campus Expansion Advisory Committee (CEAC), which has researched topics ranging from housing to traffic and parking around the school's planned expansion at Southwest Chandler Ave. and Southwest Century Drive.

The goal is to keep everyone happy. But that's a difficult task.

Over the past month, public discontent has coalesced in the form of a citizens' group called Truth in Site. Its main complaints center on what it sees as a potential glut of traffic on the westside and rowdy college students who might become neighbors. In late March, the Truth in Site group held a meeting at The Bend Armory and attracted about 200 area residents, either displeased with OSU-Cascades' current expansion plans or just curious enough to attend the gathering. Johnson was one of those in attendance.

That meeting also served as a platform for Truth in Site's leader, Scott Morgan, to launch two campaigns—one, a letter writing barrage that would have overwhelmed even Santa Claus, as the group sent dozens of grievances to city council (and the Source), and, two, an announcement that the group planned a legal challenge to OSU-Cascades' expansion at its planned site. At the meeting, the group leader said he hoped to collect $50,000 to mount a legal challenge. The group claimed to have already raised $10,000 that March evening.

But for all the huff and puff, it seems as if there's nothing to sue about at this stage in the process.

Paul Dewey, Central Oregon LandWatch's Executive Director, said Morgan's group approached him two weeks ago in relation to its possible legal challenge.

"They actually asked me to represent them—that's why they contacted me in the first place," Dewey, who founded the nonprofit land-use oversight group in 1985, said. "I said I couldn't."

LandWatch hasn't taken a stance on the university's siting plan, but the group "might on the master plan," Dewey said.

Truth in Site also approached Bill Bernardy, a member of CEAC's housing task force, about joining its ranks. He said he also declined.

On April 3, Morgan said Truth in Site would no longer be making comments to the media on advice from an attorney, leaving Bend residents in the dark regarding his group's future plans.

As an organizational tool, the group maintains a Facebook presence, posting photos and articles related to the school's proposed expansion. On March 17, a survey was posted to the Truth in Site page, giving seven options for siting the proposed university (even though OSU-Cascades has already purchased the 10-acre site). Those options include neutrally-labeled locations like "Juniper Ridge" and "Hooker Creek," but the group took poetic liberty with the purchased site on the westside, calling it the "Pumice Pit/Landfill."

When one commenter remarked that all the options should be listed more neutrally, the page's moderator accused her of libel. (Editor's note: That commenter works for the Source's sibling organization, Lay It Out Events.)

Explaining the university site-plan review process, Bend's city attorney Mary Winters said that if a hearings officer does approve OSU-Cascades' plan for the 10-acre lot, Truth in Site can make an appeal. To do so, the group would need to cite development code it believes the project would violate. However, that 10-acre parcel is currently zoned limited commercial, which allows a wide variety of use—anything from a grocery store to a school.

"What's going to be in front of a hearings officer—and if there's an appeal, in front of council—are the criteria for site-plan review," Winters said last week in her downtown office on city hall's second floor. "And that's really all they can consider, which has to do with parking and traffic. It's a permitted use, as are many other things."

Bottom line: Although the appeals process allows Truth in Site a slim avenue to pursue its challenge at this stage of process, it's likely a dead end.

Of course, there is still the potential rezoning of an adjacent 46-acre plot which OSU-Cascades plans to develop during a second phase of the campus development.

(To be continued?)

Pin It

Speaking of OSU-Cascades, Truth In Site

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • My Marvelous Mentors

    My Marvelous Mentors

    Jim Anderson pens a farewell to readers
    • Aug 26, 2020
  • Make Masks Cool

    Make Masks Cool

    Bend nurses dole out PPE for fellow workers, after an angel donation falls in their laps
    • Mar 31, 2020
Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Exhibition Opening: X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out

Exhibition Opening: X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out - High Desert Museum

Sat., Sept. 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Local News

  • Noticias en Español

    • Sep 15, 2021
    ¿Un pequeño aumento en las mascotas devueltas? More »
  • End of an Abstraction

    • Sep 15, 2021
    There's no single view among veterans on the Afghan withdrawal, but they do face unique challenges both during their service and after More »
  • A New Way to Manage Houseless Services?

    • Sep 14, 2021
    After continued growth in the population without homes, Bend city councilors seek to centralize service providers More »
  • More »

More by Dave Cantor

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2021 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation