Vista Pointe changes slammed by council

A unanimous City Council agreed with about 50 residents on Thursday in denouncing major changes proposed by developers to an east Medford subdivision.

The council denied an appeal submitted by the developers to build single-family homes rather than commercial buildings and a senior complex at East McAndrews Village in Vista Pointe.

The council also took a dim view of plans to move a proposed bridge over Lazy Creek from the subdivision into Hillcrest Orchards, which is outside the city.

"We might end up with a bridge to nowhere," Councilor Dick Gordon said.

PremierWest Bank — which has been bought out by AmericanWest Bank — and The Holt Group are the developers. They have proposed 104 residential lots and three commercial lots.

The original proposal called for 17 commercial lots, an elder-care facility, 33 multifamily units and 47 single-family houses.

Mayor Gary Wheeler said the bridge was a "red herring," and he wanted to focus on the other changes proposed in the project.

"We're chasing our tail on the bridge," he said. "It's a bridge too far."

Vista Pointe has been discussed by the city for more than a decade. Original plans called for a residential area anchored by a commercial core.

"Once that commercial space is eliminated, it is gone forever," said Chris Durham, a resident of Vista Pointe.

Many residents said they purchased homes expecting to have a commercial hub nearby and were disappointed the developer was trying to get rid of it.

Medford attorney Sydnee Dreyer, who represents the developers, told the council that the Vista Pointe development didn't have a large enough residential area to justify a big commercial hub.

In denying the proposal, the Planning Commission found the project would create 214 variances to the municipal code. Lot sizes were deemed too small, setbacks were not adhered to and the developers wanted to delay building a bridge over Lazy Creek.

The East McAndrews Village development is proposed off East McAndrews Road, east of Hillcrest Orchards near Hemlock Drive and north of the Greyson Heights subdivision.

The developers offered to give the city $500,000 toward the eventual building of a bridge, but wanted the location moved to connect with Hillcrest Orchards, which is currently undeveloped and not part of the city.

Gordon said he believes that commercial areas need to be developed close to subdivisions so people don't have to drive as far.

He also thought the bridge should be built at the location agreed upon previously between the city and the developer to connect to Hemlock Drive.

Gordon said the bridge would improve circulation in the neighborhoods, particularly as the subdivisions get built out.

"And, basically, that's why it was put there in the first place," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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