A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On Third Avenue, 8 townhouses get city’s OK

Written September 15th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

This black walnut tree near Third and Montgomery will come down to make way for townhouses.

The Albany Planning Commission has given its approval to a project by the Scott Lepman Company to build eight three-story townhomes in the 200 block of S.E. Third Avenue. A big old walnut tree in the corner of the site will have to come down, the commission agreed.

Earlier, the commission had turned down the project based partly on the tree. But then it developed that felling or not felling trees is not among the relevant standards for judging this type of application. So the commission scheduled a redo, which took place Monday.

Relevant or not, the developer provided testimony that saving the tree would take the space of two or three of the proposed units. Further, while it’s about 65 years old with a diameter at chest height of 29 inches, the tree is not particularly historic, overhangs the neighboring historic church and might damage it, and an arborist recommended that it be “removed to prevent future problems.”

Lepman, speaking to the commission’s virtual meeting from Philadelphia (he didn’t explain what he was doing there), offered to plant and maintain trees on both Third Avenue and Montgomery Street to make up for the loss of the walnut.

The commission took him up on the offer and conditioned the approval on the Lepman Company planting one tree on Third and three on Montgomery. Then it approved the application 7-0.

Camron Settlemier, an Albany resident and advocate for historic preservation, had argued that felling the walnut would violate various policies in the Albany comprehensive plan. But planning manager Scott Whyte said comprehensive plan policies don’t apply to this kind of application.

The site is at 224 and 234 Third Ave. S.E., between the Lepman-owned Wood Apartments and the former church belonging to the CHANCE non-profit.

The planned single-family townhouses, individually owned units with common walls, will each measure about 1,800 square feet, with two bedrooms on the third floor; a kitchen, laundry, living and dining area on the second, and a single-car garage and bonus room on the ground floor. Each will have a patio. (The applicant’s description didn’t mention bathrooms, but presumably there will be some.)

Four of the units will face Third Avenue; the other four an alley on the back. The complex is to be called Montgomery Place.

Albany architect Don Johnson, who designed them, wrote: “The buildings will last for centuries and ultimately become another part of the historical framework of the city.”

When will the construction start? No one said anything about that. (hh)

5 responses to “On Third Avenue, 8 townhouses get city’s OK”

  1. Kathryn says:

    Why should Lepman explain why he was in Philly? He made it to the meeting virtually anyway.

    • Jake Jaques JJ Johnny Hartman says:

      It is unclear why the issue of where Lepman was during the Zoom hearing is relevant. For reasons unexplained, the author seems to imply that Lepman’s physical whereabouts had an untoward effect. If this were true, then all the City Council meetings, all the Linn County Commissioner meetings and any and all Virtual Meetings become suspect.

      Delivering unrelated, unimportant information is a common tactic employed used to obfuscate what really is at stake. Knowing that Lepman was in the City of Brotherly Love might give a non-discriminating reader pause. It is in the narrow intellectual gap – created by the pause – that the seeds of doubt are sown. Once doubt take hold, the story can be further manipulated this way or that for reasons never made clear.
      Most readers will have long forgotten the irrelevance of the initial story.

      In short, this story seems to revolve not around “fake news,” but rather, is shrouded in distraction, misleading the casual consumer. Lepman’s motives are what they are and he is already being run through the Planning Commission meat grinder. What Albany residents do not need is misdirection from pundits with undisclosed motivations.

  2. avidreader69 says:

    I’m sad about the tree. How many black walnut trees are there left? Who gets the wood of the tree? It makes beautiful furniture. Having a bonus room in the basement sounds “spidery”. Just sayin’ .

  3. Kim Sass says:

    I’m more sad about the holly trees taken down in the Riverside Cemetery adjacent to Albany General Hospital. While a few showed signs of decline, the majority were healthy and of great value to birds in the dark days of winter. It was an unusual (to me anyway) lane of trees that added something unique to the pioneer cemetery. I have regularly walked that cemetery for about 40 years and would bet the trees were at least 100 years old. Maybe new trees will be planted as in the Lepman offer?

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