Permit for the Prineville Apartments project extended

With the original conditional use permit for the seven 4-plex apartment complex close to expiring, the developer argued successfully for an 18-month extension
Over the objections of at least one neighbor, development of the proposed apartment complex slated to be built on Hudspeth Road, next door to the Ochoco Heights has been given another breath of life.
   When completed, the complex, to be known as the Prineville Apartments, will consist of seven buildings with four housing units in each building. The development is part of developer David Bowles' Three Pines Subdivision. However, the conditional use permit issued by the city for the apartments was set to expire next month, and a request for an extension brought the contentious issue before the planning commission again.
   From its inception, the proposed complex had been disputed by those living next door in Ochoco Heights. Concerns ranged from potential water and sewer problems the apartments might cause, increased traffic issues and, as one person pointed out, "not keeping with the character of the Ochoco Heights area."
   As originally proposed, the apartments were to be located on the only parcel of land in the entire subdivision zoned for multi-family dwelling complexes. When completed, the Three Pines Subdivision will consist of 230 homes and is being constructed in three phases. The first phase has been built out and work on the second and third is scheduled to begin soon. The apartments were to be built in conjunction to those phases of the project.
   According to city ordinance, a conditional use permit is voided after one year unless, "substantial development, compliance and/or investment is clearly evident." That permit is set to expire next month. Bowles, presenting his extension request to the planning commission, said he believed his investment satisfied the requirements.
   Conditions contained in the original permit, he explained, made it impractical to begin construction of the four-plexes as first planned.
   Those conditions included the realignment of Hudspeth Road and other infrastructural improvements.
   The list of improvements, which would, Bowles said, constitute the development and investment requirements is lengthy. Construction drawings for phase II, including the apartment site, have been completed and approved by the city; a lot line adjustment underlying the four-plexes has been completed; approximately 20,000 cubic yards of structural fill has been placed on site and a market study for the project has been contracted.
   The fill was necessary, the developer explained, to elevate the site to accommodate gravity flow for the apartment's sewer system. This was done, he claimed, at a substantial cost.
   The market study is required by the state of Oregon to qualify for low-income housing tax credits. Bowles said he has been working with local social service organizations in to fine tune the design of the units to accommodate a targeted special needs population. currently, it is seniors, disabled and small families that the apartments are being designed for.
   the expenses of all this work directly attributable to the apartment site, and thereby satisfying the conditions of the permit, is more than $80,000, Bowles said. "I believe the evidence is clear that substantial compliance in meeting the permit has occurred and we qualify for an extension."
   Bowles asked for a two-year extension in order to have time to complete the tax credit application process. That process, he explained, has already delayed construction for a year and is likely to do so for another year. In addition, he told the commissioners, "Even though we continue to proceed with diligence, satisfying all the conditions of the permit is likely to take another 12 months."
   A two year extension is realistic and appropriate, he added.
   A property owner in the Pioneer Heights area, James Van Voorhies, disagreed. "This project has been an eyesore for a year or more," he began his statement. "Now I hear he is unable to get funding and what happens if he is unable to get the tax credit? What happens then?"
   Van Voorhies also talked of his concerns about satisfying the requirements for an extension. "He says he has $80,000 invested but he brought nothing to show you. Make your decision," Van Voorhies advised the commissioners, "but keep your finger on it."
   Voting on the issue, a majority of the commissioners approved an 18 month extension. As a condition of the extension, which will continue the permit until January, 2003, no further extension will be granted.
   Bowles said, if he is successful in obtaining the tax credits, construction could begin during next winters 'slow season' and the project could be completed about this time next year.