Friends of Mt. David : An Update
By Karen Larson and Becky Venice
When a great deal of logging began on Mt. David, many people became concerned. Friends of Mt. David came together in response to this, and learned of a plan by two different groups of developers to develop most of McFarland Butte, better known as Mt. David.
One of the parcels, located on the western portion of Mt. David (west of M St.) consists of 78 acres above the old hospital. It is owned by SunRise Ridge LLC. The principle investor in this development is Todd Alberts of Eugene, who also is developing the Phase II section of Holly Avenue by the Hidden Valley golf course. The SunRise Ridge Planned Unit Development (PUD) application came before the Cottage Grove Planning Commission May 18, 2005. The application proposed 253 home sites on the property.
The 63 acres of land most visibly logged that spring is owned by Emerald Heights. The principle investor in Emerald Heights is Ross Murry of Eugene. Realtor David Hemenway of Cottage Grove is a minor shareholder in this deal, along the several others. They have stated their intent to develop over 200 homes on this property, which constitutes the eastern portion of Mt. David.
Since both properties were within Cottage Grove’s Urban Growth Boundary, but were not in the city limits, they needed to be annexed into the city before development could occur. In April 2005, a group of citizens who had concerns regarding these two developments was organized, calling themselves Friends of Mt. David. Since then meetings have been held every Tuesday night from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Genealogy Museum to discuss our concerns, learn how city management works, and find out how the people of the Cottage grove can have a say/effect on these concerns.
At one of our first meetings, Todd Alberts came, and presented his plan, which was to put 253 homes on the area behind the old hospital. This was to take place in four phases. As a group, Friends of Mt. David defined the following concerns:
- Traffic Mitigation. The bulk of traffic from Sunrise Ridge (and probably eventually Emerald Heights) will be moving through the Northwest Neighborhood. Sunrise Ridge, when fully developed will generate approximately 4300 one-way trips per day. We requested off-site traffic calming devices, like speed bumps and curb bump-outs. We also sought to improve street alignment, include more outlets for roads, and strove for an overall design to reduce traffic impact.
- Open Space. Open space is required by the PUD application. SunRise Ridge had provided only a bit over the minimum of open space in the form of parks and trails, but it amounts to only 5.8 acres out of 73.
- Hillside Development. The area proposed consists of some quite steep and problematic property. It is also the backdrop for the City of Cottage Grove and the Northwest Neighborhood. Friends of Mt. David wanted to ensure that any development is esthetically integrate, (for example no huge hilltop homes cut into the mountainside) uses the best safety and design standards, and would encompass element such as native tree preservation to ensure minimal erosion that could cause landslides or flooding. A storm water system would be needed.
Friends of Mt. David began going to City Planning Commission meetings, and individually presented our concerns. We felt that the Planning Commission really listened to us, and they made recommendations to the City Council. The Planning Commission forwarded to City Council their proposed conditions of approval, which individually addressed the first phase of the Alberts’ plan, which consisted of 75 homes. These conditions included traffic barriers for the neighborhood, a larger park area than the developer had planned, and other amenities that were brought forward by FOMD.
On September 12, 2005, the Developer, Todd Alberts filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, claiming that the City was neglectful in not taking action within 120 days allowed by state law. This writ of mandamus made it impossible for Friends of Mt. David to have further involvement in the process.
Therefore, Friends of Mt. David was forced to hire an attorney, who filed a motion to intervene in the process. Filing the intervention assured us that our attorney would be included in any negotiations.
When the settlement was agreed upon in February, 2006 between the Developer, the City and the individuals from Friends of Mt. David who were named as interveners, all agreed to sign off on the final settlement.
The settlement included the following agreements:
- Before the litigation, the developer proposed a park that would be 1 acre in size. After litigation, the park area was enlarged to almost 4 acres, and will serve the whole community, instead of just the people living in the development.
- Proposed traffic barriers and all infrastructure improvements (including the park) will be constructed prior to completion of phase one of SunRise Ridge.
- Street trees were to be included after architectural review approval.
- Access to a future Ridgeline Trail will be provided.
- Construction traffic was restricted to a specific route through the neighborhood, keeping it from wandering through the neighborhood.
Since the approval of SunRise Ridge, Friends of Mt. David has become involved many other community planning issues:
- FOMD provided testimony on the Hillside Development ordinance
- We participate in ODOT’s Adopt-a-Highway program keeping the southbound exit 174 from I-5 and the connector road leading into Cottage Grove clean.
- Investigated the lot sales of formerly established Indian Ceremonial grounds.
- Influenced decision makers to zone Emerald Heights Development “R” instead of “R1.” This makes for bigger lots and fewer houses.
- Planned and presented to the City Planning Commission and City Council a proposed RIDGE LINE TRAIL, which would run from the McFarland Cemetery, through Emerald Heights and SunRidge Ridge to beyond the urban growth boundary on SunRise Ridge.
- Have representatives on the city’s Development Code project – which is charged with completely re-writing Cottage Grove’s development code.
- Have representatives on the Transportation Systems Plan advisory committee. This committee is responsible for updating and re-writing the Cottage Grove Transportation Systems Plan.
Other activities include:
- Developed a web site: FOMD.ORG
- Held garage sales to raise money to pay for our attorney
- Created FOMD Cookbooks for sale
- Created Mount David T-shirts for sale
- Created Mount David Bumper stickers
- Made and distributed window signs to raise awareness of Mt. David
- Hosted an Old-Fashioned Neighborhood Picnic/Block Party
- Had a booth at Bohemia Mining Days.
- Friends of Mt. David now has a mailing list of nearly 100 people.