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3rd Bridge not quite to state code

Sources tell Salem Weekly that insiders in the City of Salem were provoked by a letter received last week from the Department of Land Conservation and Development Community Services Division (DLCD) that referred to the fact that the Salem River Crossing project – which continues to be planned and advocated, including with a public Open House in June – doesn’t meet state regulations for land use.

The letter, addressed to Transportation Planning Manager, Julie Warncke, referred to the problem; the placement of part of the proposed bridge outside the urban growth boundary (UGB) of the city of Salem.

The issue is that being outside the UGB means the project does not follow State goals for 1) agricultural lands, 2) public facilities, 3) urbanization and, 4) the Willamette River Greenway.

This information was available as early as a year ago, when the DLCD gave a presentation outlining the difficulties of the Salem River Crossing plan, stating that it didn’t meet land use requirements or statewide planning goals.

The June 23 letter to Warncke suggests two solutions; one is to extend the boundary to include bridge construction and the other is to request and obtain exceptions to written State goals.

2 Comments

  1. As the recipient of the letter discussed in this article, I would like to provide some facts. The City had actually requested this letter from the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to assist in initiating the required land use approvals for the Salem River Crossing project. Far from being “provoked,” City staff were appreciative of the letter from DLCD, which was very helpful and clearly laid out the options for obtaining local land use approvals. Contrary to your headline, the letter neither stated nor implied that the project does not meet state regulations for land use.

  2. Julie,

    DLCD explained this process in comments they submitted as part of the draft environmental impact statement. Land use goal exceptions are for projects where there are not reasonable alternatives that do conform to state land use goals. That is not the case here because there are bridge alternatives that are within the UGB that do not require any exceptions.

    The fact that you had to request a letter on the process for obtaining these exceptions is itself evidence that the project does not conform to state land use law. The city is not following the intent of the law, even if you are ultimately successful in getting the required exceptions.

    I wish you showed the same skill and determination implement the policies, goals, and objectives in our Transportation System Plan for biking, walking and transit as you have in steering the 3rd bridge around state land use law. It seems that residents of Salem who want to walk, bike, and use transit in comfort and with dignity deserve the same effort from city staff as regional commuters–a large share of whom don’t even live in Salem.

    But whenever I challenge you on this point you just serve up the same tired excuses and circular arguments that have perpetuated the cycle of mediocrity that Salem has struggled under for so long.

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