Selling land to Phoenix Urban Renewal raises concerns – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News


file photoA {} couple are cycling through Blue Heron Park in Phoenix on Sunday morning.

Pending the sale of a 1.36 acre parcel of land next to Blue Heron Park for a premium RV park, some residents are unhappy with the Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency. They fear that the sale will result in the loss of wetlands on the site.

BBMFR LLC, run by James Beard, signed a sales agreement with the agency to purchase the plot for $ 375,000. The sale is expected to close no later than October 29.

Douglas Day, director of project operations, said it was premature to discuss details such as the number of venues and the type of customers the park hopes to attract. As part of the sales agreement, the buyer must submit a land use request to the City before closing. An architect is involved in preparing this plan, Day said.

“The buyers and PHURA are still negotiating. The whole project is still in the process of being determined, ”said Al Muelhoefer, chairman of the board of directors of PHURA. The company would be called Blue Heron RV Park, he said.

The company plans to build the RV park on the land and on two adjacent plots it purchased that housed the Dun Rov-N RV Park and Frontier Lodge Apartments, both of which were destroyed by the Almeda fire.

An old vacant house on the urban renewal site also burned down. A total of 4.02 acres would be developed. All of the land borders Highway 99 in the south block 4300. The PHURA parcel is adjacent to the north entrance to the park.

PHURA held a special online meeting on September 13 for residents to comment on the sale, although the agency has already signed the sale document on September 1. Three people raised concerns about the project and written testimony was also submitted. Concerns revolved around the future of a wetland at the site that contains a spring.

“When this was brought to our attention, many of us were alarmed. No one sees the wetland as an asset. They are seen more as an obstacle, ”said Annie Drager. She also wondered why there hadn’t been a public hearing before the sale and what the impact would be on the road to Blue Heron Park.

“He’s an irreplaceable asset,” said Kristina Lefever, who works for the Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, headquartered in Phoenix. She regretted that the source and the riparian zone do not remain public property.

LeFever, during a PHURA session on July 7, presented a proposal for a nature learning center on the site. Other organizations have reportedly been involved in the center, and she said the location on a wetland site would help education efforts.

“We need a learning center to know the value of wetlands and create a positive relationship with nature,” Drager said.

PHURA had proposed that the riparian area of ​​the land, approximately 0.63 acres, remain in public ownership. But the board later withdrew that idea after the developers indicated they wanted the entire plot, Muelhoefer said.

As expected, the wetlands would be covered and land in a wetland mitigation bank elsewhere would be purchased to replace the lost riparian area, Day said at the meeting.

“We certainly plan to follow all the rules and regulations necessary to develop this park,” Day said. He reported that the LLC hired Portland wetland engineer Phil Scoles to lead this part of the project. He said it could take up to a year to go through the wetland authorization process.

Responding to questions, Phoenix Community Development Director Joe Slaughter said all wetland considerations are handled by the Oregon State Land Division.

“The city isn’t involved (with the wetlands), it’s the State Lands Division. It is not unusual to have wetland mitigation banks for this purpose, ”Slaughter said. The state agency’s wetland mitigation requirements would be incorporated into any approvals the city would give for the RV park.

Board member Terry Baker, who is also the mayor of Phoenix, has called for more sessions so the public can be kept informed on the progress of the project. The Phoenix City Council serves as the agency’s board of directors. Day said the company is willing to participate in additional sessions to provide information.

The agency’s board of directors held executive sessions in July and August in which the sale of real estate was cited as the reason for the meetings. A first offer to purchase was received on June 30. The agency made a counter-offer on August 31.

The appearance and operation standards of the park must be submitted as part of the land use planning application to the city. The age and condition of recreational vehicles and occupancy of pets are among the items covered by the standards listed in the sales contract.

Contact Ashland’s freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.


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