Council will not adopt apartment resolution

By Dick Mason, The Observer October 16, 2013 09:45 am

Mayor asks public to discuss concerns with Blue Springs Crossing developers

ISLAND CITY — The Island City City Council will not adopt a resolution in support of a proposal by a Portland real estate company to pursue the development of an $8.2 million 38-unit housing complex along Walton Road. 

Island City Mayor Dale De Long made this point clear at a council meeting Monday night. De Long spoke in detail about the proposed apartment complex that would provide federally subsidized affordable housing.

“My view, as mayor, is that the request for a resolution is unusual, as the council will, ultimately, be asked to review any land use application related to the proposal,” De Long said. “At this time, I believe it is premature to issue a resolution without a full set of facts, and specifics about the proposal.”

The Blue Springs Crossing complex would be developed by Guardian Real Estate Services of Portland and managed and owned by the Northeast Oregon Housing Authority. NEOHA is a non-profit organization that manages government-subsidized units in Union, Wallowa, Baker and Grant counties.

Developers of the proposed project first discussed plans for the project with the city council in July. A formal project application has not been submitted yet to Island City.

De Long said on Tuesday that he is not sure that an apartment complex for low-income residents would be in the best interest of Island City.

“I do not see a big advantage to having it,” De Long said.

He does not believe there is a need for additional low-income housing in the area and does not believe it would draw many additional people into Island City.

The mayor wants Island City residents to take it upon themselves to take an active role in informing themselves about the Blue Springs Crossing project. 

“I encourage community members to learn more about the proposal, invite the developers to hear your concerns and participate in the land use review process,” De Long said.

Once a formal application to build the Blue Springs Crossing project is submitted to the city, a public hearing on it will be conducted, De Long said on Tuesday. People will have an opportunity to express their views about the proposed apartment complex. 

Dale Inslee, NEOHA executive director, said there is a need for low-income housing in this region.

He also said that there is a need for housing units for working families in La Grande and Island City, which Blue Springs Crossing would provide. Inslee said many working families have to commute to La Grande from communities like Elgin because of a lack of housing for working families in this area. 

“We need more one-, two- and three-bedroom housing units,” Inslee said. 

One reason for the shortage is that many of these units are occupied by Eastern Oregon University students, he said. 

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