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Published: Wednesday, 10/11/2006

Oregon OKs 1 project but rejects plans for another

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

One senior citizen housing project on Wheeling Street in Oregon is moving forward while another on Seaman Road has been denied.

The Oregon Planning Commission recently granted Lutheran Housing Services, 2411 Seaman Rd., a conditional-use application for an independent senior housing facility.

The facility will be on about 18 acres at 175 South Wheeling St. in an R-3 multiple-family residentially zoned area, Oregon Zoning Inspector Mike Rudey said.

The facility will be similar to the nearby Luther Hills and Luther Grove independent living apartment complexes, John Henry of Lutheran Housing Services said.

Each of the 40, one-bedroom units will have its own kitchen, a bus will be available for transportation, and many group activities are provided, he said.

While there will be no medical staff on the premises, Mr. Henry said a service coordinator will be available.

He said funding for the project will come from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, which will allow low-income elderly to pay no more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities.

The project is slated to be under way this fall, Mr. Henry said.

Mr. Rudey said officials at Lutheran Housing Services have applied for a building permit, which should be issued in the near future. Construction can begin any time after the permit is issued.

Oregon City Council does not need to approve conditional-use applications, like the one submitted by Lutheran Housing Services.

But it does need to approve special-use permits and refused to do so for a private assisted-living facility off Seaman.

While the city's project review committee did not have objections to granting a permit, subject to five conditions, the city's planning commission had unanimously recommended council deny the request.

Property owner and applicant Joe Williams, Jr., had asked the city for the permit so he could build a 15-apartment facility on the 8.9 acres at 5670 Seaman.

No one voiced opposition to the actual project; however, most in attendance and councilmen had a problem with where the proposed facility would be located - in an area zoned R-1 low-density residential.

"I am quite confident that this is not the right location for this project," Councilman Matt Szollosi said.

He said he hoped Mr. Williams would consider working with the Oregon Economic Development Foundation to find a location more appropriate "because I like the project itself, but not the location."

Before voting on the measure, council held a 20-minute public hearing during which no proponents spoke in favor of the request and two residents spoke against the proposal, including Linda Baranowski-Smith of Starr Avenue, who said she didn't want to see projects with special permits located all over the city.

"I'm not opposed to the project itself," Ms. Baranowski-Smith said. "Certainly assisted living would be appropriate in Oregon. But I think that special permits are for changes to existing facilities."



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