After being shut down and then facing concerns from neighbors about the proposed cut-and-filled building sites, the Bend developer has been given the green light to proceed
When the Prineville Planning Commission took up the issue of Hunter Heights Subdivision they had been handed two clearly defined options: denial or approval with more than a dozen conditions.
Problems with the project came up last November when on-site preparation for the new subdivision north of Prineville was brought to a halt. The development was, at that time, just outside the city limits but within the Urban Growth Boundary. The issue that stopped the prep work was that the developer had not obtained any required construction permits.
Apparently the developer, Lee Moriarty of Bend, had started the work after agreeing to the requirements for being annexed into the city. Prineville planning director Dick Brown said at the time the city had not issued any permits or approvals, but had issued the application for preliminary partitioning of the 9.9 acre parcel into three smaller parcels. Since November, the site has been annexed into the city limits and now work on the development can commence.
Landscaping and and a proposed 25-foot cut into a hillside were issues heatedly discussed at a public hearing held on the proposed development in February.
The proposed subdivision, according to the developer, would be built on the hillside, "I'll be selling sites with a view ... a diversity of development and variance of property. There is a need for high-end duplexes in Prineville."
Moriarty's plan was to cut and fill, leaving building sites on the uphill side higher than those downhill which would still be higher than the neighboring homes. Originally, to make this work, a 25-foot cut into the hillside would be made. To accomplish this cut would mean blasting to remove material which would then be used to fill building sites on the downhill slope.
To comply with local ordinances, all proposed cuts and fills can be a maximum of 10-12 feet and all lots modified have to be certified to be environmentally acceptable. Additionally, any drilling and blasting has to be done under strict Oregon Chapter Standard Specifications for construction. Those specifications require approvals and permits from a wide range of state and federal agencies, including $5 million insurance.
The approved site plan of Hunter Heights has been modified and will call for a simple 12-foot cut along one hillside.
A few weeks ago, the city's planning commission directed Brown to develop a tentative plan for the subdivision, one outlining the two options; approval or denial. The proposed decision of denial concluded that the development is not in full compliance with the Comprehensive Plan and zoning provisions. Its relationship to land use compatibility with adjoining developments was also brought into question.
All in all, Brown said, the denial option, if accepted by the planners would probably not stand up through the appeal process. The planning commission did not spend much time looking into that option.
More time was taken on testimony about landscaping and erosion control. One of the conditions proposed in the option to approve the subdivision called for "and engineers certificate as to the adequacy and safety of the proposed surface water drainage plan ..."
A landscape architect explained that the use of trees and shrubs, would "do as much as possible to reduce erosion especially with regard to any bare ground." The landscape plan calls for fast growing trees and brush to be planned on lot lines to block the view back toward the fill slope. The chosen trees would be deer and drought resistant.
There are a lot of things that can be done to enhance visual impacts and control erosion. Moriarty informed the planners that he would have "a lot of rock, so that is no problem. But I want the development to be pleasing."
With that issue seemingly under control, the planning commission went on to approve the permit for the new subdivision.