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Double Down on Capstone Appeals

The certainty of a 1,200-student housing development at 13th and Olive is growing more questionable. Neighborhood advocate Paul Conte filed a second appeal of the proposed development by Capstone, an Alabama-based student housing developer, May 29.

The latest appeal, to the Land Use Board of Appeals, contests the Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE), the tax break that City Council awarded the project, on the basis that state law requires that the project comply, as submitted or as built, to Eugene’s Metro Plan. Conte says the requirements of the Metro Plan were not sufficiently investigated but were presented to the Eugene City Council as compliant.

Many aspects of the City Council’s decision to grant the MUPTE were not land use decisions, Conte says, “but when they decided that the proposed development is consistent with the Metro Plan,” that was a land use decision.

“The Metro Plan has very clear and important policies regarding the protection of the stability and livability of neighborhoods, and those were not addressed,” Conte says. He adds that the council could have been in compliance with state law based on an amendment councilor George Brown proposed, which would have mandated that the Capstone project be in compliance with the Metro Plan in the future rather than stating that it already is. Instead, the council voted to exclude that portion of Brown’s resolution.

Conte says that City Council’s perception of the MUPTE approval as an extremely time-sensitive decision might have changed with sufficient investigation, especially if they’d discovered a late-in-the-game paperwork alteration that changed the anticipated completion date of phase one from fall 2013 to fall 2014.

On May 23, Conte filed an appeal of the council’s decision to no longer claim ownership of a portion of 12th Alley. “These two appeals are based on some of the ways that the staff and City Council didn’t follow the law and did so in a manner that was clearly to ram this thing through in minimal time and without a full community discussion as to our Metro Plan policies and what they require of a project like this,” Conte says.