Happenings in Rogue Valley and Statewide
It has been a busy year for us here at Rogue Advocates! Thanks to your continuing donations and support we have been able to successfully participate in multiple land use applications. Oregon Farm & Forest Lands came under threat by multiple legislative bills and commercial developments over the last year what would have set a precedent for the development of our valuable open spaces. The State of Oregon is known for its beautiful and productive farmlands, sprawling forests, and stunning waterways. Every day, Rogue Advocates works to protect these important spaces from development, mismanagement, and destruction. While we cannot protect every inch of the Rogue Valley, know that your generous support allows us to continue working toward a better future for our region. Learn more about what we have been up to and up against below!
Grand Terrace is a proposed apartment housing complex off Highway 99 outside of Ashland City Limits. While Ashland Commissioners and City Council members have lauded the project, highlighting the need for increased affordable housing in the area, beginning in 2020 we at Rogue Advocates have appealed the project to LUBA for plentiful potential violations of state development regulations. Rogue Advocates strongly supports the need for affordable housing but not by constructing substandard 250 square feet units and deficient infrastructure. To approve the project the City of Ashland would need to provide several exemptions for street standards to meet the sites topography and restrictions. Additionally, the site presents significant barriers to transit, pedestrian, and parking access for residents, particularly those occupying the 38 proposed affordable housing units. As it stands now, the project does not meet the City’s own standards for unit size, parking requirements, or street design. The project approval by Ashland has been overturned twice by Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) in successful arguments by Rogue Advocates, but the battle for improvements continues. The project will again go to the Ashland Planning Commission on Sept 12, and out for hearings on October 3rd and 17th. We will continue to monitor and participate in these hearings.
Rogue Advocates, in conjunction with our supporters and our friends at 1000 Friends of Oregon, worked to oppose HB 3414, a bill that, if implemented, would be a significant setback to existing protections of Oregon’s valuable farm and forest land. On May 22nd we at Rogue Advocates published
a call-to-action letter, and thanks in large to the support of our constituents and 1000 Friends of Oregon, the bill was rejected in its current state by the House Rules Committee on June 25th, 2023. We will continue to monitor the bill and would be supportive of seeing a reformed Section 2 that does not undermine existing land use laws.
Preventing Urbanization of Forest Land in Josephine County
Rogue Advocates, in conjunction with 1000 Friends of Oregon, is currently challenging a planned development near Grants Pass to authorize 18 5-acre homesites. The 87.75-acre subject property is located between South Schoolhouse Road and Timber Lane and contains 63 acres of woodlands, alongside meadows and wetlands. This proposal is a classic example of urban sprawl. The steep slopes and wetlands will likely compel the applicant to group most homes together and create a small neighborhood well outside the urban growth boundary. Last year, Rogue Advocates successfully appealed, and LUBA remanded the County’s prior approval of the same application. The remand directed the County to address errors related to (1) the forest productivity report used to justify the County’s decision that the property was non-resource, and (2) analysis as to whether the decision complied with Goal 14, Urbanization. After another local hearing with minor changes the County again approved the development. Rogue Advocates again appealed to LUBA and the final oral arguments at LUBA will be held in October. The LUBA decision will set statewide precedent if this type of development will be allowed under Oregon land use law.
Your support goes a long way toward helping us keep Oregon, Oregon! Alongside the actions above, you can see the progress being made on our long-term projects and keep up to date on upcoming activities at our website, www.RogueAdvocates.org! Big things are coming this year and next, and with your continued support and donations we are excited to continue working to protect sustainable farm and forest resource lands.