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SOU puts brakes on master plan

Southern Oregon University has decided to take its 10-year master plan back to the drawing board after a slate of neighbors protested the proposal at a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month.

The university will hold a neighborhood meeting in October, where locals can meet with architects and SOU officials to propose changes to the plan, said Larry Blake, SOU's director of campus planning and sustainability.

"The master plan will be on hold until then," he said at Tuesday's Planning Commission meeting.

Blake is a member of the commission, but did not participate in the public hearings on the SOU plan, because that could have been perceived as a conflict of interest, he said.

Although the date has not been finalized, the neighborhood meeting has been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 5, from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Rogue River Room, in SOU's Stevenson Union, he said.

"The hope would be that a lot of the concerns would be allayed through modifications of the plan," Blake said.

The university held two neighborhood meetings during the earlier stages of the plan, but they were not well attended, he said.

At the July 15 Planning Commission meeting, neighbors objected to the faculty housing the plan proposed for the west side of the campus, and worried that the changes could harm a community garden that lies in the middle of the proposed faculty village.

The commission ran out of time to discuss or vote on the plan at the hearing because 26 people signed up to speak during the meeting.

After the October neighborhood meeting, SOU officials expect to bring the revised plan back to the commission for another public hearing. In order to move forward with the plan, SOU officials must get it approved by the commission and the City Council.

"We've pushed back our timetable," Blake said. "We're hoping to receive council approval in the beginning of 2010."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.