Veterans-focused housing complex approved

By Sean C. Morgan
Lebanon Local
The Lebanon Planning Commission approved a 48-unit affordable housing apartment complex with a focus on veterans following a public hearing on May 7.
The $12 million, 2.37-acre complex, Applegate Landing, will connect to Airport Road at the intersection with Stoltz Hill Road.
According to state data, Lebanon is underserved with affordable housing, according to developer James Lutz, with just 80 percent of of its ideal distribution of affordable units; and Linn County as whole is even lower, with 56 percent of the affordable units needed to meet demand.
“Greater than a third of the city’s population is considered rent burdened,” he said. “And this condition will only continue to worsen as Lebanon is well outpacing the state’s average population growth.”
Applegate Landing LLC, the applicant seeking approval and a variance from the minimum number of parking spaces, was created to meet the housing and related needs of Oregon veterans and their families and low-income families in and around Lebanon, Lutz said.

Applegate Landing Apartments site plan

The company will continue working closely with the city, Linn County and local service providers to ensure the provision of housing that supports residents, veteran and civilian, setting hem up for stable housing and future success.
Of the units, 12 will be set aside specifically for veterans, Lutz said. One will house the manager, and the remainder will have a veteran preference. One will be available to a person with a serious or persistent mental illness.
Crossroads Communities, a Lebanon-based nonprofit that specializes in serving veterans, will provide support services, specializing in after-treatment care to individuals with mental health and substance use disorders with a focus on veterans living on the site, Lutz said. That will include overseeing and assisting with peer support, rental stability, financial skills, vocational and workforce training and more.
The project is a product of Lutz’s family legacy, said Lutz, who has lived in Lebanon more than 25 years and who has two sons who are Marines. Edward C. Allworth, the Oregon Veteran Home’s namesake, is Lutz’s great grandfather. In his time, Allworth housed returning veterans at Oregon State University. He connected them to counseling, medical services and job training.
With “endless wars” for decades, Lutz said. “we have a ton of veterans returning.”
The Veterans Administration has struggled to help them, he said, and Linn County has huge numbers of veterans, who often find it hard to get by, noting he has two veteran uncles, “heroes” in his eyes, who are living on Social Security.
“I took it upon myself to add to our community support for veterans,” Lutz said, and on-site residential services are important.
The project includes four three-story buildings, with a mix of studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom units, Lutz said. They will rent at a range of 30 to 60 percent of the area median income. Ground floor units will be adaptable for full accessibility.
Lutz requested a variance from parking requirements because it would increase the cost of the project by as much as $200,000. Citing studies, he said that lower-income households own vehicles at lower rates than households with higher incomes, reducing the need for parking.
Crossroads Communities will coordinate with residents to make use of Lebanon’s LINX dial-a-bus service, Lutz said, and Applegate Landing LLC is working with Linn Shuttle to ensure bus service as close as possible to the property.
Several area residents objected to the variance from parking requirements and were concerned about increased traffic at the intersection of Stoltz Hill and Airport roads.
While it is a worthwhile project, said Donna Beamer in a comment on behalf of 30 others, “by putting a large apartment complex right in the middle of an already overcrowded area, you congest Airport Road even more, making it a traffic hazard. Does someone have to be killed before something is done to alleviate this congestion and long line of cars? By adding more traffic with this complex, even with a signal somewhere in the equation, it will not be safe.”
Community Development Director Kelly Hart told the Planning Commission that the project would need to remove a community room or reduce the complex by 16 units. Another alternative would require a variance from open space requirements.
The Planning Commission found sufficient justification to warrant a reduction in the number of parking spaces in its decision to approve the variance. As part of the conditions of approval, Applegate Landing must contribute 25 percent of the cost of installing a traffic signal at the intersection.
“I think we all know that Airport Road has got some serious traffic on it,” said Ron Whitlach, engineering services director. “We had Applegate submit a traffic impact analysis.”
The city also completed an analysis, he said, and he expects traffic at the intersection to “trigger” a new signal by 2022. However, Whitlach said the city could move on it quicker than that.
The applicant is willing to pay 25 percent of the cost, and Linn County and the city have already entered into negotiations on funding the rest of it, Whitlach said. It is eligible to use systems development charge funds, and “it’s pretty much funded at this point.”
The city will begin working on designs, he said, and “shoot to have the thing done close to when he (Lutz) opens.”
“The whole thing is for veterans and their families,” Dale Jenkins told Lebanon Local. “It’s passed and ready to build. We’re finally going to have a place to put some of our homeless veterans in a home.”
They’ll get help “straightening out” and be able to get into the workforce, Jenkins said. “I feel wonderful. I’m glad. That was 2½ years I’ve been working on it.”
Applegate Landing LLC is a for-profit business, Lutz said. It is working with Crossroads and Community Shelter and Assistance Corp. of Oregon to develop the affordable housing project. While Crossroads will provide on-site support to veterans, CASA was “key in the acquisition of funding from Oregon Housing and Community Services.”
As a leader in the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Jenkins provided the key relationship between Applegate and local veterans organizations, Lutz told Lebanon Local. “He was instrumental in rallying all of the local veterans organizations for support.”
Lutz said he would like to continue building complexes like Applegate Landing.
“It’s good for our community, and it would be nice for Linn County and Lebanon to be ahead for veterans,” Lutz said.
The deadline for an appeal to the City Council is May 22, Hart said. After that, Applegate Landing can submit building and site plans. By late June, it can begin pulling building permits and get started.
Lutz said he would like to start building at the end of June, but he thinks construction is more likely in early July. He expects to start obtaining permits in the next few weeks.
Gerding Builders of Corvallis is the contractor, and Multi-Teck of Salem is the project designer.
Present at the meeting were commissioners Joshua Galka, Josh Port, Todd Prenoveau, Don Robertson and Samuel Brackeen. Absent were Jeremy Salvage and David McClain.
In other business, commissioners approved a conditional use permit for CoEnergy Propane for a fuel storage and distribution facility, 101 Industrial Way, a 1.69-acre property north of the Rick Franklin Rail Yard.
The applicant proposed using a 60,000-gallon above-ground storage tank for on-site storage of liquid propane. A rail tower would allow the tank to be refueled from the rail line. The tank would be used to fill smaller truck tanks.
CoEnergy Propane has storefronts in Albany and Redmond and storage facilities in Redmond and Corvallis. The new facility will serve local communities within a 60-mile radius from Lebanon.