City & Government, Springfield

Springfield council nixes Finley Heights annexation

SPRINGFIELD – City Council moved forward in many areas on Monday, with one conversation inspiring a particularly passionate engagement from community members.

Six people addressed the council regarding the annexation of seven acres of vacant residential property in the vicinity of South 71st and South 72nd streets, known as Finley Heights.

“Annexations can be routine and beneficial to the City. Annexations can also be very problematic,” said Peter DeFazio, former representative who lives on South 70th Street. “In this case, we’re talking about an area which has been declared by the State of Oregon to be geologically unstable and subject to landslides.”

DeFazio also addressed the potential for people to lose their homeowners insurance, the challenges the City would have providing services like water, and the difficulty level of evacuating people from that property in an emergency like a landslide or ice storm.

Four echoed DeFazio’s concerns. One acknowledged the community’s concerns while emphasizing his support for the annexation’s approval: Royal Mortier, Finley Heights owner and property owner who lives in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Mortier mentioned the tests that have been done, how unlikely landslides are, and how services will be able to reach the property. It was not enough to convince council to move forward, though.

“If it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, it’s a duck in the sense that the topography and geography has not changed. It’s been looked at. It’s been denied before for being not feasible,” said councilor Joe Pishioneri. “Even if we say no, which is where I’m leaning, it’s not no forever. They can apply next week and supply more information, but based on the information that’s been provided by staff and all the comments, I can’t support this moving forward until they come back to us with a new application.”

The annexation was unanimously denied by council per staff recommendation.

In other news

Phase 3 of the Jasper Truck Sanitary Sewer Extension project moved forward as council voted 5-1 to pass a resolution to authorize easement and/or right of way acquisition needed for the project as required by law. Councilor Victoria Doyle did not vote in favor. Phase 3 of the project will install about 5,280 ft. of 28-24 in. diameter pipe parallel with Jasper Road from Mt. Vernon Road to the east side of Bob Straub Parkway near Brand S Road.

City manager Nancy Newton now has authority to manage the City’s federal aid projects’ agreements and amendments over $100,000 without needing council approval.

Atkore would like to utilize this property for material storage, but the current employment mixed use zoning does not permit this use. Council voted to initiate the amendments which Atkore, property owner of a portion of land located in Phase 1 of the Glenwood Refinement Plan on Newman St., submitted.

Council directed Newton to enter into an agreement with Campbell Commercial Real Estate for commercial property management services. The contract value is $235,400 over three plus fiscal years, and its scope includes both City and Springfield Economic Development Agency (SEDA) properties that currently lease to tenants, have the potential to lease to tenants, or require expertise to maintain the property’s values.

On the horizon

SEDA will meet May 28 to discuss the letter of intent (LOI) with Robert Scherer, owner of the Buick Building at 702 A St. and the adjacent vacant lot at 751 B St., which was approved by SEDA in September 2023, as well as the next steps for this potential sale/acquisition.

Scherer also owned the property at 740 B St., which is where the Blue McKenzie project – a $34 million initiative to create mixed-use residential housing – was supposed to be developed. The project was deemed to no longer be financially viable by Scherer June 2023, and SEDA acquired the property and other assets December 2023.

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