Land Use Issues in River Road

By Julie Schaum and Marilyn Mohr

You may have noticed or even received notice lately of new residential infill development in your neighborhood. Infill development is new residential construction in established areas of the city. Infill development has greatly increased due to growth pressures and because it is one solution to achieve greater density within Eugene’s current Urban Growth Boundary. Done well, infill development should maintain the stability, positive character, quality, natural resources, and livability of our residential neighborhoods.

River Road’s large lots and remaining open spaces are being sought after for development. There are currently around 150 newly platted lots available for single family homes, proposed in flag lot partitions of up to 3 lots, or subdivisions ranging from 4 lots to 46 lots.

Here are some things you can do to help insure a proposed new subdivision is compatible with your neighborhood. Review the notice you receive in the mail or see posted in your neighborhood. Consider if the proposed density, character and quality of the homes fit your neighborhood. Will traffic impacts such as vehicular flow, parking and emergency access be properly addressed? Are there efforts to preserve as many trees as possible? How is stormwater proposed to be treated and are the natural waterways and drainages, unique to the River Road area, being preserved?

Also, new to the City of Eugene’s website, you can locate infill developments as they are proposed in River Road. Go to www.eugene-or.gov. Click on Land Use Applications under City Quick Links on the left side of the page. Contact City of Eugene planners or RRCO if you have questions or comments.

We can all help to make sure our coveted neighborhoods grow preserving the characteristics that we desire.

Transforming River Road: Pedestrian Improvements and Mixed Use Corridor Planning

The transformation of River Road between Chambers and Hilliard into a more attractive, green, and pedestrian-friendly boulevard is getting a few steps closer to reality, thanks to the continuing efforts of a Citizen Advisory Committee of area residents working with Eugene city planners. Details are not quite finalized, but it seems likely that the Oregon Department of Transportation will fund some additional planning work starting this summer, and continuing through the following year. A key focus of the planning will be design of an attractive, pedestrian-oriented corridor that promotes the use of walking, biking and transit, and that supports the potential for a higher density mixed commercial and residential district on both sides of River Road in all existing commercial/office zones.

Improved bicycle and pedestrian connectors to the riverbank bike path system will be part of the design. This phase of planning will also include a review of zoning and development codes to ensure they support goals for higher density, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development along the corridor, while also protecting adjacent historic and residential housing.

Consultants will work with the Citizen Advisory Committee and local residents to develop plans and get feedback. There will be various public meetings and multiple opportunities for public input and involvement.

In addition, according to the work plan proposed by the Advisory Committee and approved by the Eugene Planning Commission in April, the City and neighborhood organizations will work to complete several other plans and surveys identified as important to area residents. The plans are a Greenway Enhancement Plan focused on protecting and improving habitat and open space along the Greenway, and a Neighborhood Sustainability Plan focused on environmental, economic and social values–including recommendations for things like on-site stormwater management, energy efficiency, and public investments to create public gathering spaces.

The work plan includes a neighborhood survey about residents’ driving habits and their needs and desires for nearby commercial services. Also proposed is a survey of existing commercial businesses, especially about their parking requirements and aimed at helping them develop plans to accommodate parking in a way that is more compatible with an attractive, pedestrian-friendly corridor. It is possible that state funding might cover part of these other plans and surveys, or additional resources might be needed.

All of these plans and survey results will be incorporated into a draft plan for an attractive and distinctive mixed-use corridor. RRCO urges River Road residents to continue to contribute their good ideas and to participate in this dialog with our neighbors (including residents and business and commercial property owners) as we develop a common vision for revitalizing this area of our neighborhood for the benefit of all. For more information about the Rasor MUC project, visit: http://www.riverroadco.org, or http://www.rrcoplanning.ppaponline.org.

RRCO Letter Concerning Railyard Pollution

Please see the January 28, 2008 attached http://riverroadco.org/files/RRCOreRailyard.pdf letter to Paul S. (Max) Rosenberg, Western Region Cleanup Program Manager, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The letter is a follow up and request from the River Road Community Organization to a letter from Mr Rosenberg on November 8, 2007.

City Offers Matching Grants for Neighborhood Projects, Events

The following was clipped from the City of Eugene’s web site.

The City of Eugene has released a request for proposals (RFP) seeking applications for grants for neighborhood physical improvement projects or one-time neighborhood-building activities. Neighborhood Matching Grants are available for projects such as playground improvements, community gardens, and neighborhood events.

Proposals will be accepted from groups of people who live, work, or own property within the area affected by the grant. City funds requested must be matched by at least the same amount of cash donations, donated materials and supplies, or volunteer labor. Grant requests for amounts between a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $25,000 will be considered. The value of the total project may not exceed $50,000. Grant applications must be endorsed by the respective neighborhood association. A citizen advisory committee rates the applications based on tangible neighborhood benefit, community involvement, and project readiness. Project sites are not required to be on property within City of Eugene limits, but must be within the Urban Growth Boundary.

Fourteen projects were funded in 2007. The Eugene City Council resumed funding the popular community-building program this year, after budget reductions caused it to be discontinued from 2004 through 2007. The Council has allocated $50,000 per year for the program through fiscal year 2009.

Grant packets are available on the City’s web site, www.eugene-or.gov/matchinggrants, and also at the Permit and Information Center (Atrium Building-99 West 10th Ave.), City Hall, the downtown, Bethel and Sheldon branch libraries and all community centers. The deadline for a required preliminary review is February 25, 2008. Final applications are due on March 31, 2008. Awards will be announced in May 2008. For more information about the Neighborhood Matching Grants Program, contact Michael Kinnison, Planning and Development Department, 682-5009, or michael.j.kinnison@ci.eugene.or.us.

RRCO Response to the Proposed Schmitz Homeplace Tentative PUD.

Lydia McKinney
City of Eugene Planning Division
Re: Schmitz Homeplace Tentative PUD
December 19, 2007

Dear Ms. McKinney,

I am writing on behalf of the River Road Community Organization (RRCO) Board, in response to the proposed Schmitz Homeplace Tentative PUD.

After meeting with the owners of the property and the developers, as well as taking comments from neighbors, the RRCO Board has the following comments and suggestions.

First, we appreciate the fact that the owner and the developers have been willing to meet on several occassions with both the board and with the public regarding this PUD. We understand that there have already been modifications to the PUD, based on this previous input. In this spirit, we hope that some of our concerns and proposals can still be incorporated into the final plans.

The primary issues with this PUD seem to revolve around traffic management and impact on the neighborhood. To that end, it has been proposed that

1) Stop signs be installed at the corners of Harvey and Hatton at intersections with Evergreen.

2) Consider again the installation of a traffic light at Hatton and River Road, to facilitate both vehicular and pedestrian access. This will encourage routing of traffic onto River Road directly, and away from Evergreen and Howard (where there is a traffic signal). Please consider that there are two schools located west of this development on Howard Ave, and many children walk this road morning and afternoon. Adding traffic to Howard Ave. will create additional dangers for these young pedestrians.

3) Add traffic calming measures such as speed bumps, at both the north and south ends of the development, on Evergreen Lane. Speed bumps would make Evergreen Lane a safer street as it would discourage Schmitz Homeplace residents from using Evergreen. Residents entering and exiting the PUD would be more encouraged to use the Hatton Ave. access to River Road, as intended.

4) Protect current neighbors from future assessments for road improvements, which will most likely be needed as a result of degradation due to increased traffic. Future road improvements should include neighborhood input regarding design.

Thank you for adding our recommendations for consideration as this project moves forward. Please continue to inform us of any changes and activity that transpires.

Sincerely,

Jolene Siemsen
RRCO Board, co-chair
190 Hawthorne Ave
Eugene, OR 97404
541-520-2737

River Road and Trainsong Pollution Concerns

Please see the January 28, 2008 attached http://riverroadco.org/files/RRCOreRailyard.pdf letter to Paul S. (Max) Rosenberg, Western Region Cleanup Program Manager, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The letter is a follow up and request from the River Road Community Organization to a letter from Mr Rosenberg on November 8, 2007.

PDF of November 1, 2007 Meeting
Oregon Ecology – Union Pacific Railyard Cleanup, Eugene Oregon 9/21/2007
Oregon Toxics Alliance “Eugene Railyard Contamination”

Oregon DEQ – Land Quality Enviromental Cleanup – Union Pacific Railyard Cleanup, Eugene
Environmental Health Assessment Program (EHAP) – NW Eugene Area Canceer Study
Oregon Department of Human Services – Public Health Assessment  2007
Register-Guard  “Switching Stories” 8/12/07
Register-Guard “For neighbors, information is sidetracked” 8/12/07
Register-Guard “Railroad presents cleanup plan” 7/13/2007
Eugene Weekly  “Tainsong’s Pollution Purgatory” 7/19/2007
Eugene Weekly “Toxic Trainyards” 6/7/2007
Eugene Weekly “For the Long Haul” 3/24/2005
Eugnene Weekly “Railyard Forum” 2/6/2003

Attachment/s:
RRCOreRailyard.pdf