Morrison Property Rezoned for Affordable Housing
On May 22 Hood River City Council approved a rezone of the 5-acre property commonly known as Morrison Park from Open Space/Public Facility (OS/PF) to High Density Residential R-3 in order to work with Mid Columbia Housing Authority on an affordable housing project. The Councilors voted to condition the rezone to include “significant park area and a pedestrian and bike greenway with connectivity to trails.” HRVRC and Livable Hood River had advocated that the City retain 50% of the parcel as parkland. The councilors seemed supportive of preserving a meaningful park space but declined to set a fixed area or percentage of land until a survey is completed to see what portions of the property were easiest to build, what portions had the most important natural features to keep etc. Since the City is the property owner, the Councilors felt like they could achieve 50/50 or another suitable balance of housing and park as part of their negotiations on site plan design with Mid-Columbia Housing.
We encourage the City and Housing Authority to invite the public –and especially project neighbors–into the design process. An open and welcoming public process with design charettes and stakeholder meetings will lead to a park/housing project that is a real asset to the neighborhood and town.
Meanwhile, it is expected that opponents of the rezone will appeal the City’s decision to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).
City Considers Morrison Proposal
The City of Hood River Planning Commission is considering a proposal to rezone the 5-acre City-owned property known as Morrison Park from OP/PF (Open Space/Public Facility) to R-3 High Density Residential in order to use the property for the creation of much needed affordable housing. The property, at the corner of Wasco and 20th, is undeveloped and currently being as a disc golf course. The rezone has sparked controversy as it pits two much needed public benefits against each other: the need for parks versus the need for affordable housing. HRVRC has taken a middle position, saying that it shouldn’t be “either/or” but that the property was large enough to have both a meaningful sized park and new housing units. We made that determination based on concept plans that were developed for the property in 2008 by a team of University of Oregon architecture graduate students. Their plans were compelling and show the parcel attractively developed as half park and half housing. Here is a fuller explanation of our thinking, and more here and here are the U of O plans. But, this is a controversial issue and we want to know what you think. If you want to share your thoughts, send them to our ED, Heather Staten.
The City Council will hold a hearing on May 22 at 6 pm, 211 2nd Street, Hood River to consider the proposal. All the staff reports, background information and testimony received can be viewed at the bottom of the homepage of the City’s website.