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Mailbag: Commission wrong to block building

Mailbag: Commission wrong to block building

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The Albany Landmarks Commission showed poor judgment in rejecting the proposal for Calapooia Court. Through a narrow interpretation of architectural guidelines, the commission determined that the project was too large for the neighborhood, despite it falling in line with the scale and massing of numerous nearby buildings. Any judgment must consider the broader context of the neighborhood — an area which includes over 100 years of architectural styles and much bulkier buildings, including the senior apartments at Third and Calapooia, the courthouse and Whitespires Church.

The general intent of architectural guidelines for the area is to ensure new projects fit the overall context of the Monteith historic district, not to impose a false architectural homogeneity on a block-by-block basis. This project meets the specifications upon which it was rejected in ADC 7.270, and the commissioners misinterpreted the intent of the code.

Moreover, this project is right for our neighborhood. The proposal is architecturally attractive, congruous with nearby developments and does not detract from the character of the surrounding historic buildings. We must not allow fearful NIMBYism to prevent much-needed new housing on a vacant lot. This rejection costs Albany a forward-thinking mixed-use development, and we will be worse off for it. I hope this project will be appealed and approved as proposed by the City Council. Going forward, Albany should reevaluate why we allow a board of unelected officials to serve as yet another veto point in the convoluted task of approving new developments and adopt a by-right approval process instead.

Patrick Spence

Albany

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