BEND, OR -- It's another victory for OSU-Cascades: The Oregon Court of Appeals has upheld previous rulings, allowing the campus expansion on Bend's Westside to continue. OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson tells KBND she's relieved. "It feels great in the sense that we can be assured what we're doing there, construction-wise, is not at risk anymore. We're just trying to get things up and running as fast as we can."
Three previous attempts by Truth in Site to halt the project on Chandler Avenue also failed. A hearings officer, Bend's City Council, the state Land Use Board of Appeals and now Oregon's Court of Appeals have all upheld the location of the school's new Bend campus. "It's fantastic news for us. It's the fourth time that our site application has been affirmed, which gives us great confidence that we are conforming with the city of Bend's development codes, and we're really excited about moving full speed ahead on developing the campus," Johnson says.
But, the fight may not be over, quite yet. "[Truth in Site is] allowed to appeal to the State Supreme Court. The State Supreme Court does not have to hear any particular case, and they rarely hear land use cases. And, given the strength of the decision, this 'affirmed without opinion,' and how quickly it came down, I would be very surprised if the State Supreme Court decided to hear this case."
Tracy Pfiffner with Truth in Site says she's disappointed with this fourth loss. "We're surprised and we believe this ruling is very unfortunate for Bend. I think everyone knows there is not community-wide support for this campus on the west side. We have a lot of voices out there that aren't in support of this campus."
She says the group has not yet decided whether to file one final appeal, "We're absolutely keeping all of our options open. I think it's important to keep in mind that nobody really knows how OSU is going to build out this campus, including OSU. Will they build besides the ten acres or will they spread out all over the city?" She tells KBND, "I know the university is saying that they really want to engage with the public. But, really what role can the public play at this point in helping them to develop a pumice mine or helping them to remediate the landfill?"
OSU's Johnson says the school is still considering a 46-acre pumice mine and a 65-acre demolition landfill for further expansion, adjacent to the 10-acre parcel on Chandler Ave. already under development. OSU-Cascades welcomes its first freshman class this month. An academic center with classrooms, labs and office space is slated to open by fall 2016.