News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Density decision posed concerns

Current residents of the Village Meadows development wrote letters to the City of Sisters opposing Habitat for Humanity’s requested modification and replat of property in the subdivision, and testified at the hearing via Zoom.

Neighbors’ concerns centered on insufficient parking space, which would become worse with four more lots, traffic and speeding impacts on public safety, snow storage in the winter, the role of the homeowners’ association and the CC&Rs given Habitat’s control, the reduction in size of a lot containing a home already built for and occupied by a family, and a sense that the homeowners don’t really have a voice in what is going on in their neighborhood.

Planning commissioners discussed a number of concerns in their wide-reaching consideration of Habitat for Humanity’s request for a master plan modification and replat. A number of the concerns are not those taken into consideration during a land division decision, but they will come up when the site plan is submitted for approval.

Commissioner Scot Davidson has community livability concerns as Sisters continues to grow within its current Urban Growth Boundary. He doesn’t believe that building more and more single-family detached housing is the answer for Sisters.

Commissioner Jack Nagel thinks the issue of adequate residential parking is something the City will continue to deal with.

The health and safety of community members, coupled with the need for more affordable housing, made Commissioner Mark Hamilton’s decision on the modification request a difficult one. He understood that, considering the current codes, approval was called for, but in the end his vote was no.

Commissioner Art Blumenkron doesn’t like the idea of “shoving people together to get affordable housing” but was inclined to approve the request as submitted.

Seeing reliance on the automobile as an American problem that needs to be dealt with, Commissioner Tom Reis agreed with Davidson’s comments and thinks Sisters needs to look to creating greater density in building projects.

“By choosing the option of detached single-family housing, we’ll keep ending up with useless side yards and sprawl,” he said.

Planning Commission Chairman Jeff Seymour voted to approve the request as submitted. How the parking is managed after the development is completed, he thinks, will be up to the homeowners’ association. He believes the City and the Planning Commission are going to see more requests for higher-density projects.

Commissioner Cris Converse recused herself from the vote due to a business connection with an affected party.


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