Council agrees to 100-unit apartment complex

Cambier

Pendleton City Council agreed to contribute $176,651 for infrastructure to a planned 100-unit apartment complex at the Pendleton Heights development — but they needed some convincing.

The apartment complex was a change of plans for the subdivision, which was originally going to build 32 more townhouses in its third phase to complement the 40 units already built.

Developer Saj Jinvanjee said he is struggled to recoup his investment from the first two phases because of the high cost of developing the rocky, inclined land and the property taxes on the individual lots.

Jivanjee said building an apartment complex would be easier to build while still adding more inventory to Pendleton’s tight housing market.

The council was hesitant to meet Jivanjee’s request.

Councilor Chuck Wood said he and Councilor Neil Brown were on the planning commission when Pendleton Heights was first proposed and recalled the strong resistance it received from residents and landlords.

He said he was uncomfortable making changes to the plans when some members of the public opposed the development when it was only 72 townhouses. Several councilors worried about the traffic problems 100 more apartment units could create on Tutuilla Road, although Community Development Director Tim Simons assured them that it shouldn’t be an issue.

Jivanjee reminded the council that he was the “lone ranger” when it came to housing development in Pendleton and the benefits of adding more dwellings would outweigh the drawbacks.

Jivanjee was able win over enough skeptics, the council voting 5-1 to contribute the infrastructure funding, with Brown voting against it and Councilors John Brenne and Becky Marks absent.

Brown said he needed more concrete plans about how Jivanjee would mitigate the council’s concerns before he could support the contribution.

Voting in the majority was Jake Cambier, who was appointed to the council earlier in the meeting.

During his interview with the council before the meeting, Cambier said he was looking to get back into public service after he served on the Pendleton School Board from 1999 to 2009.

Cambier was chosen over retired salesman Paul Rabitaille, who unsuccessfully sought appointment to the other at-large seat in February and lost in the council elections in May.

Brown said Rabitaille improved on his last interview with the council and encouraged him to apply for a committee appointment.

Cambier replace former at-large councilor Al Plute, who resigned and moved to Springfield.

The council also adopted a $58.6 million budget, which features a $15.8 million general fund.

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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