Neighbors will fight approval of project

Assisted-living center in Medford at issue

Neighbors in an historic east Medford neighborhood have banded together to fight the City Council's approval of an assisted-living center on Main Street.

Fran Wolfe, Doug McCreary and the Old East Medford Neighborhood Association have filed a notice of intent to appeal with the Land Use Board of Appeals.

They have hired Portland lawyers Edward Sullivan, Carrie Richter and Garvey Schubert to challenge the city's decision to exempt the proposed 55,543-square-foot center at 825 E. Main St. from a time-consuming planning review.

Richter said she wouldn't comment on the specific legal challenges.

"My expectation is that we will be filing our brief in mid-November," she said.

Portland lawyer Greg Hathaway, who represents the developer, Alex Jauregui, originally suggested that the project should be exempt from review by the Site Plan and Architectural Commission.

"I personally feel, from a legal standpoint, that the city made a legally defensible position," Hathaway said.

Medford code exempts a new building on a property from review by the commission if it does not generate more than 10 additional vehicle trips and the project is not in a historic district.

The existing buildings, one of which houses a methadone clinic that is in the process of moving, sit just outside the historic district and generate 350 vehicle trips a day on average. The assisted-living facility would generate 227 daily trips — 123 fewer — according to calculations made by Southern Oregon Transportation Engineering LLC of Medford.

Hathaway said that if the project was situated within the historic overlay district, it would not be eligible for the exemption from the Site Plan and Architectural Commission.

Neighbors in the historic Geneva and Minnesota streets neighborhood have previously said they think the project should be subject to architectural review because the three-story assisted-living center would loom over their houses.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow him on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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