As of Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Hood River resident Susan Crowley has filed an appeal of the January decision by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) upholding a city decision to rezone Morrison Park for housing development.
Crowley, who was among residents who have been vocal in opposition to the rezone of the property to allow high-density housing, filed the Petition for Review with the Oregon Court of Appeals on Feb. 9. She said she will argue that the Hood River City Council misinterpreted provisions of its comprehensive plan which specifically protect existing parks and exclude this park from residential development. (The property is officially known as Lot 700.)
“Park supporters have all along been making responsible and reasonable arguments which will now be presented to the Court of Appeals,” said Crowley. “We’re hopeful the courts will agree that the city’s laws protecting parks really mean what they say.”
“I’m grateful that our citizens are willing to share their opinions,” City Planning Director Dustin Nilsen said in a Tuesday morning email. “The public process surrounding the rezone of TL 700 was extensive, broad-based and thoughtful. The direction and decision to rezone of Lot 700 was not taken lightly and came after an extensive public hearing process.”
Morrison Park is a 5-acre wooded acreage in the middle of Hood River which has been lightly developed with walking paths and a disc golf course. Residents have used it as an inner-city retreat since the early 1930s, and it has been zoned as a park since 1975. In late 2016, the city filed an application to rezone its zoning designation to R-3 to allow development of subsidized housing on the site.
“Lots of people want to live in this beautiful town, and the city council is encouraging more development throughout the entire city,” said Crowley. “But the more crowded our town gets, the more our parks are needed by neighbors of all income levels. It’s both bad planning and unlawful to sacrifice our parks for housing.”
Nilsen responded, “The City Council took to heart the various competing and mutually exclusive views articulated by its citizens and community stakeholders.
“With that background I take exception to the over-simplification that this decision is ‘bad planning,’ out of respect for the time and investment that everyone in the community made to participate in the process, regardless of whether they agreed with the outcome. The council struggled to reconcile the multiple competing policies and interests at stake in this matter, and in the end came down on the side of providing a significant boost to affordable housing in our community, at the expense of a relatively small impact to the community’s recreational land base.”