OSU campus in Bend clears hurdle

Construction is expected to be completed by the 2016-17 academic year.

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The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals rejected this week a key claim from foes of Oregon State University’s plans for a campus in Bend.

Construction is expected to begin soon and should be completed by the 2016-17 academic year.

The group of Central Oregon residents, who called themselves Truth in Site, argued the developers of the OSU-Cascades campus had yet to address potential traffic and parking constraints.

“This represents a victory for higher education in Central Oregon and is particularly significant for our current and future students,” said OSU-Cascades vice president Becky Johnson in a news release. “We will build a west side campus that integrates well within the community.”

The Portland Business Journal writes:

While OSU-Cascades will welcome its first freshman class this September, groundbreaking for the new campus has been delayed by more than a year after opponents filed appeals with the city and then the state land use board. This week’s LUBA decision affirmed that Bend city officials and OSU-Cascades followed the land use planning process.

Opponents could still appeal the LUBA decision to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Last month, with the LUBA appeal pending, OSU selected American Campus Communities to develop and construct an 86,000-square-foot student residence and a 27,000-square-foot dining hall on the campus. The university also has planned a 43,600-square-foot academic building for the early phases of development.

The board’s decision will likely be appealed.

The mine property would cost OSU $7.9 million to acquire, according to a 2013 agreement, but university officials have emphasized that is not a done deal and they could explore other options. Their option on the property expires in September 2017. Johnson said officials must now consider whether to move ahead with construction while an appeal is pending or wait it out, noting that having the campus ready for students by fall 2016 “is the most optimistic projection.”

“We’ll have to assess the risk of that type of appeal,” she said. “We feel confident that we (will) prevail in another appeal or two, but you never know.”

(SOURCE: The Bend Bulletin)

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