There was mixed reaction to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) early December final ruling, remanding to the City of Portland a building permit allowing Beaverton-based VWR Development to continue construction on its four-story, mixed-use building on Northeast Fremont Street between 44th and 45th avenues. LUBA ruled on Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth’s (BWNFRG) appeal of the City of Portland’s building permit and ordered that VWR revise certain design details LUBA characterized as “trivial,” which the city must review.
Speaking for BWNFRG, Margaret Davis said, “The good news is that the city has a chance to look at the project again and revise the permit. It took hundreds of hours of work, thousands of dollars in legal bills, and a trip to Salem to have neighbors’ concerns addressed. The outcome of all this, however, is an improved development for everyone, one that even handles its own runoff safely.”
Conversely, Davis said the downside of the ruling partially favoring the citizens’ group is a process that is cumbersome and expensive. “It’s a difficult business, spending so much effort and thousands of dollars just to make sure a building meets code. I don’t think this is the neighbors’ job; and the lukewarm ‘win’ further reduces neighbors’ faith in city staff and process,” Davis said.
BWNFRG had objected to VWR’s application for a permit to add 51 residential units to the neighborhood without providing any parking, contending that the application was finalized after the City passed regulations requiring parking for more than 30 units. LUBA, instead, ruled that VWR’s permit was completed before the recently-adopted minimum parking regulations, rejecting the assertion that additional parking be required. LUBA, however, upheld BWNFRG’s points concerning setbacks for dry wells.
“The dry well is important because it acts as flood control—especially important given the flow that will come off the maximum-size roof—and new projects such as this can no longer hook up to city lines, to help avoid polluting overflows into the Willamette River. The dry well also is important because it rains here,” Davis added. Structure work on the project is complete with the building being wrapped, preparing it for siding.