UO needs city OK on new arena

UO needs city OK on new arena

View the statements from the City of Eugene and the University of Oregon.

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - The University of Oregon must get a conditional use permit before starting construction on a $227 million basketball arena, a Eugene hearings official has ruled.

Below is an architect's elevation of what the arena would look like. This design does not reflect any changes that might be made in obtaining a permit.

The permit process would require a public hearing and an evaluation of the project's impact on neighbors. The review won't stop construction of the 12,500-seat arena, but it will determine how the venue is built.

It's unclear if the extra step will delay the arena's opening, scheduled for fall 2010.

University officials could appeal to the state Land Use Board of Appeals or accept the ruling and seek the permit. They said they were still reviewing Wednesday's decision.

"We remain fully committed to moving forward with construction as quickly as possible, while at the same time continuing our fruitful and productive discussions with the Fairmount Neighborhood Association," the university said in a statement sent to The Register-Guard newspaper.

Neighbors have said they are concerned about traffic and parking. They also want the university to address issues such as noise, litter and lighting.

Hearings official Anne Corcoran Briggs overturned a decision by the city planning director that found the arena was an extension of the university and did not need a conditional use permit. Fairmount neighbors challenged the decision, saying the arena falls under city zoning rules because it is more like a separate entertainment venue than a university building.

"It wasn't a personal vendetta against the university arena," said Sue Jakabosky, co-chairwoman of the Fairmount Neighbors group. "Part of it was the principle that we felt in this case the planning process was being circumvented."

Meanwhile, the university on Friday will seek final state approval of a plan to sell state-backed bonds to finance the construction. The university used $27 million in bonds to buy land for the arena site, and wants permission to use another $200 million in bonds to pay for construction.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

This is a press release courtesy of the City of Eugene

A Hearings Official decision issued late Tuesday found that University of Oregon’s proposed arena is not a use that is permitted outright on the site and will thus require a Conditional Use Permit.  The City of Eugene Planning Director had ruled that the University could proceed with the arena project as a permitted use under a general "university or college" use classification.  The Planning Director decision on the code interpretation was the subject of the appeal by the Fairmount Neighborhood Association.

The Hearings Official’s decision indicates that the question of whether the proposed Arena is permitted outright is a “close” one.  She found the proposed use fits better within the more specific category of Arena use rather than the broader category of University use. The Hearings Official decision is final unless appealed within 21 days to the State Land Use Board of Appeals. 

The Conditional Use Permit process involves a public hearing before the Hearings Official to evaluate the proposal for compatibility with surroundings, operational characteristics of the proposed arena and potential mitigation of traffic impacts and parking demand. The Conditional Use process typically takes four to six months.

The University has previously submitted applications for Traffic Impact Analysis and Adjustment Review for the proposed arena.  The City of Eugene is currently reviewing these applications for completeness.  These applications could be combined as part of the Conditional Use Permit at the discretion of the University, and thus be reviewed concurrently by the Hearings Official as part of the Conditional Use Permit decision, or could be processed separately.

The Conditional Use Permit would be subject to further appeal to the Eugene Planning Commission for a final decision at the local level.

This is the UO's statement regarding Hearings Official’s ruling on conditional use permit for new University of Oregon arena

While the University of Oregon is disappointed by the Hearings Official’s recent ruling, the decision in no way diminishes the UO’s commitment to or enthusiasm for the arena project. We remain fully committed to moving forward with construction as quickly as possible, while at the same time, continuing our fruitful and productive discussions with the Fairmount Neighborhood Association.  This decision simply means that we may have to construct the project under a different set of land use requirements.  Conditional use review does not determine if the arena can be built, it only determines how it is constructed.

The University of Oregon is in the process of reviewing the Hearings Official’s findings and will decide on the most appropriate course of action.  That determination will be made following a detailed examination of the ruling.