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Objections lead SOU to consider revisions to master plan

for the Mail Tribune

ASHLAND — Southern Oregon University is taking its 10-year master plan back to the drawing board after neighbors protested the proposal at a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month.

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

Blake is a member of the commission but did not participate in the public hearings on the SOU plan, he said.

The meeting tentatively has been scheduled for 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Rogue River Room of SOU's Stevenson Union.

"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 faculty housing proposed for the west side of the campus, and worried the changes could harm a community garden in the area.

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

After the October 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."

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.