Opponents of a proposed low-income apartment complex on Spring Street should not be surprised that a state appeals board has overruled the City Council's rejection of the project. The council clearly exceeded its authority and ignored its own zoning to appease angry neighbors.

Opponents of a proposed low-income apartment complex on Spring Street should not be surprised that a state appeals board has overruled the City Council's rejection of the project. The council clearly exceeded its authority and ignored its own zoning to appease angry neighbors.

Now the city must reconsider the project, and the opponents should prepare themselves to accept a change in their neighborhood. The Housing Authority of Jackson County, meanwhile, should drop its threatened federal lawsuit and work with the city to improve Spring Street for everyone's benefit.

The 100-unit Cherry Creek complex is planned for 6 acres adjacent to Donahue-Frohnmayer Park. As proposed, it would comprise 16 buildings grouped around a central courtyard, with 150 parking spaces.

The city's Site Plan and Architectural Commission approved the project last July. Neighbors appealed that decision to the City Council, arguing the project was not compatible with a neighborhood of single-family homes.

The council bowed to that pressure, rejecting the project. The Housing Authority in turn appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals in Salem.

Last week, LUBA ruled that council members improperly met with opponents outside the formal hearing process, failed to fully explain why they overruled the Site Plan and Architectural Commission's finding that the project was compatible, and wrongly claimed zoning maps allowing 20 units per acre were in error.

The Housing Authority clearly had a strong case when it appealed to LUBA, but even before oral arguments were held in the appeal, the agency threatened to file a federal lawsuit charging the council's rejection violated the civil rights of low-income residents.

That's a stretch at best. While some of the opponents may feel that way, we don't buy the idea that City Council members wanted to keep low-income people out of the Spring Street neighborhood. The city has approved other low-income housing in the past.

But beyond that, pursuing a federal lawsuit will only serve to further raise the already high level of antagonism surrounding this project. The Housing Authority should scrap the suit and work with the city and the neighborhood to complete the project.

Toward that end, as we've said before, the opponents' strongest argument involves pedestrian safety on Spring Street, which lacks sidewalks.

Instead of spending money on court costs and attorneys' fees, the Housing Authority should offer to contribute to improving the street. The city should work to help make that happen, and the opponents should realize that the project could actually improve their neighborhood.