Council Discusses Burgundy Lane Subdivision project

Gwen Barringer
IVN contributing writer

The Cave Junction City Council met at City Hall to discuss several important city matters April 22. The largest of which spanned the first set of three public hearing regarding proposed changes to the undeveloped Burgundy Lane and Syrah Circle subdivision.
Mayor Meadow Martell and council members Tina Casey-Jones, Jean Ann Miles, and Jesse Dugas were physically present, with councilman Ethan Lane participating through Zoom video conferencing.
At the start of the meeting, the council authorized the signing of an inter-governmental agreement supporting a community block grant that would facilitate a housing repair and rehabilitation program for Josephine County residents. Chad Hansen spoke to the council on behalf of Homebridging GP LLC, the Grants Pass based nonprofit that is applying for the $500,000 grant. Hansen explained that if the grant were received, Homebridging would be able to provide services to local homes that are “aging in place,” meaning the owners no longer have the physical capability or financial resources to perform basic repairs. While council expressed concerns surrounding whether Homebridging GP would be selected to receive the grant, Hansen stated that he confidently believes that they will. From his estimate, the grant would be received in May, with prospective applicants submitting their applications around late summertime, and the money being accessible by early fall.
The council unanimously approved the sighing of the inter-governmental agreement, with the general consensus being that the city and county alike could benefit from Homebridging GP’s services if the grant were to be received.
After this, the meeting broke for the first public hearing, which stemmed from an application submitted by Hansen and Homebridging GP LLC seeking a class c variance that would approve the utilization of the pre-existing street section, and accept the dedication of the area as a city street in the future. Rowan Fairfield spoke on behalf of the city, explaining that although the land was developed in 2006, nothing had been done with it since its development and it was ultimately repossessed by the city in 2020. Fairfield explained that the city was satisfied with the variance application, but required certain conditions to be met before it could be approved. These conditions included a distinguishment between travel and parking lanes, and an adjustment in the width of the lanes overall.
Justin Gerlitz of Gerlitz Engineering responded on behalf of the applicant, explaining that the applicant was more than willing to meet the city’s safety concerns in this regard.
When the time for public comment came, local resident Josh Boneker, who lives at the entryway of the proposed subdivision area, voiced his concerns about the potential for traffic to increase once residential homes are built in the area. This sparked further discussion between the council regarding the area’s access points, which led to the discovery that the applicant was not planning on renovating the ‘stub streets’ in the area into official access points anytime soon. This concerned the council, as the overall plan for the area, according to the applicant, would involve constructing thirty-seven homes in the subdivision.
Councilor Jones asked Fire Chief Holmes, who was present, “Can we evacuate thirty seven homes of people?” to which the chief agreed that two access points would be needed.
Councilor Dugas voiced his concerns by simply pointing out “so we would have a single choke point.”
As no decision was to be made during these hearings, the council broke for the second hearing surrounding the application for a zone change in the same area. Fairfield returned to the podium to speak on behalf of the city, explaining to the council that the area had previously been zoned as light-industrial and the applicants were seeking to re-zone the area as single-family residential. While the city has no issue with the area being re-zoned as residential, they would much prefer it if the area was a more even blend of single and multi-family residential homes.
Justin Gerlitz spoke on behalf of the applicant to reiterate that the city is in the midst of a housing crisis, and the proposed single-family residential zoning would serve to expand the housing market.
The third hearing, the application for the proposed subdivision itself, involved Fairfield once again speaking on behalf of the city to explain that while they have no issue with the proposal overall, there are certain conditions and criteria that must be met before the project can be approved and construction can begin. These criteria include a revised tentative plat for approval by city staff, and the submission of a traffic impact analysis.
While the council seemed to agree with the city’s findings, especially regarding the traffic impact analysis given the single egress in the area, the council must meet to discuss the three applications again on May 1 before making any final decisions.