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Manor housing plan is not a good idea

East Medford residents and homeowners in the residential neighborhoods around Orchard Hill Elementary, and especially Councilor Mike Zarosinski, should not be fooled by the sleight-of-hand being performed by Brian McLemore, the CEO of Pacific Retirement Services. The Mail Tribune story of Feb. 2 did not mention a few details.

First, the PRS plan calls for more than 900 multi-story apartment units to be built along the south side of Juanipero Way and curving southward along the fence line behind Orchard Hill Elementary School to Honor Drive. Secondly, Golf View Drive would be extended south to a new South Stage Road, and in effect be a shortcut for traffic from Pacific Highway.

The “new” Golf View would also be opened to Honor Drive, creating a direct path to La Loma Drive, which is an all-residential area. The road design alone would create an impact on the neighborhoods around La Loma, and especially traffic in and out of Orchard Hill Elementary, which is already a nightmare at the beginning and end of school days.

Juanipero cannot be widened and cannot support any additional traffic from the new apartment units, or the new traffic on Golf View. Orchard Hill Elementary cannot absorb new elementary students from the apartments, and there is no middle school or high school in the Phoenix-Talent School District within 10 miles. The sheer number of apartment units in this residential area simply cannot be supported by existing infrastructure.

However, this does not matter to McLemore, who revealed at a public meeting on Nov. 5 that the apartment component of the PRS plan would neither be owned nor managed by PRS. The units would be sold for profit and could be “low-income housing” units, depending on the buyer.

It is clear that PRS is using the apartment component of its plan as a bargaining chip to gain approval of the project with the Medford Planning Department. PRS is only interested in profits from the sale of the $600,000 golf course units to rich retirees from out of state. In the story, McLemore stated, “We’re anticipating it will create a feeder for the Manor.”

PRS has a big enough presence in the area. It doesn’t need to expand on the backs of local homeowners and residents. As for McLemore’s wish that Medford be more like Bend, that’s rich.

Medford is many things, but at the end of the day, Medford is a blue-collar community. No one I know is yearning to live a crowded and overpriced place like Bend. If PRS wants to court rich Californians to fill its towers, have at it, but not by ruining the ambiance of local neighborhoods.

The long-term residents and homeowners in the area deserve better treatment from PRS and realistic consideration from the Planning Department and Medford City Council members. Neighbors, please contact your council members and voice your concerns to the Planning Commission. If we don’t stand up to PRS, we can kiss our neighborhoods goodbye.

Ted Krempa lives in Medford.