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Blue River granted right-of-way okay

Board of Commissioners approves special design

EUGENE: Last week, Blue River Drive joined the ranks of Territorial Highway, East 30th Avenue, and Gilham Road. How? A unanimous vote by the Lane County Board of Commissioners put a stamp of approval on the creation of a “Design Concept” that will allow downtown rebuilding plans to mirror the way the town’s streets were configured for over 100 years.

At their April 25th meeting, commissioners were updated on ways that could help people rebuild homes and businesses that had been delayed by restrictive language in Lane County’s existing land use provisions. In her presentation to the board, senior planner Becky Taylor explained how changes had been approved in the past to deal with constraints along sections of those other three streets.

A major issue has been a requirement in the code for right-of-way widths along Blue River Drive that would restrict what property owners could do on portions of their lots that had been subdivided in 1911.

In her testimony to the board, Meyer’s General Store owner Melanie Brite said that without the requested code amendments, she couldn’t “have parking, or a front door, or half my building.”

The four amendments included the creation of a design process, recognize the existing platted right-of-way widths, enabling setbacks using a “context-sensitive design,” and recognizing that because the overall layout is in a flatland area, there isn’t a need to deal with steep shoulder drop-offs.

In addition, Taylor noted that other narrow side streets in the adjoining downtown area could also be designed to accommodate vehicles, utilities, and sidewalks, or a planter strip.

The motion to approve the four code change provisions made by East Lane Commissioner Heather Buch and seconded by vice chair Laurie Trieger passed unanimously. It included language for immediate implementation, rather than the normal 30 days before becoming effective so projects like the rebuilding of the O’Brien Memorial Library won’t be delayed.

Work on developing a final design concept is underway and Taylor said she expects it will be brought to the commissioners later this summer for approval.


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