Bend city planner recommends councilors not hear appeal of controversial SE Bend gas station
Says it does not have city-wide policy implications, should go to LUBA; 'unacceptable!' says opponents
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Despite long and loud opposition by some neighbors to a planned retail development in southeast Bend due to a disputed gas station, a city planner is urging the city council not to hear their appeal of the project’s approval and to let the matter go to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
Foes of the two conditional use permits for the commercial development at the corner of Brosterhous and Murphy Road have appealed the recent city hearings officer’s Jan. 4 approval of the project sought by applicant Colvin Oil.
They are urging councilors to hear it, but city Senior Planner Heidi Kennedy laid out the case against doing so in her issue summary posted Thursday with the agenda for next Wednesday evening’s council meeting.
In an echo of many past land-use appeals brought to councilors over the years, Kennedy wrote, “This is a site-specific development application that does not have city-wide implications” – the criteria in city regulations for whether to take up an appeal or to let a staff or hearings officer’s decision stand as the city's final stance, allowing appellants to take the matter to LUBA.
“The number of community members registering their support or opposed to a particular development application is not the same has having community-wide implications or public policy issues,” Kennedy wrote.
The planner said any public policy issues regarding condition use permits and what uses are allowed in what zoning cannot be resolved in an appeal of an application, “which is governed by the criteria in place at the time of the application.”
Kennedy wrote that the matter “can be appealed to and adequately reviewed” by LUBA, “an impartial decision-maker with specialized expertise that can provide all parties a fair, neutral forum with an established, efficient process to adjudicate an appeal.”
She said the 36-page appeal basically restates the issues and arguments the hearings officer heard but “does not, however, identify why Council rather than LUBA should decide those issues.”
The planner also noted that if the council chooses to hear the matter, “it would be extremely difficult to issue a final local decision” by the 120-day deadline, unless the applicant granted an extension or special council hearings were planned. But she said “the applicant has indicated that they are not inclined to extend” the deadline – and that could land the matter in court.
Informed of the planner’s recommendation, Susi Gaylord of the group “Southeast Bend Neighbors fore Responsible Development” told NewsChannel 21, "This is the same argument council always uses — the appeal isn’t a city-wide issue and LUBA is better suited to hear the appeal.
"It is not ok that our city council fails repeatedly to respect the people who live in this city by favoring development," Gaylord wrote. "This potential development is in contradiction to everything the city says they want, need, and value. Unacceptable!!!"
You can read their appeal application and the hearings officer decision in item 7 of next week's council agenda. Here's Kennedy's issue summary: