At a special meeting of the Sisters City Council last week, councilors gave the green light to Hayden Homes to develop their 195-plus-unit housing development, McKenzie Meadow Village, located off McKinney Butte Road next to the high school.

Four of the five councilors voted unanimously to approve Ordinance No. 496, with a number of conditions. Mayor Chuck Ryan was not in attendance. He had previously recused himself from any hearings or discussions regarding MMV because of his previous negotiations held with Hayden personnel during the period when Sisters was without a city manager.

The ordinance approved the MMV Master Plan, Subdivision, Zone Change, Plan Amendment, and Development Agreement. The plans call for 116 single-family detached homes, 18 single-family attached/townhomes, and 61-65 multi-family units plus 3.32 acres of open space, and recreational amenities and supporting infrastructure.

The Development Agreement requires a minimum of one affordable housing unit for every 10 market-rate residential units, a requirement that was part of the original annexation agreement into the city.

The application was reviewed and approved by City planning staff using the adopted applicable City and State procedures. Review fees, paid by the applicant, were in excess of $34,000. The Council decision was made based on the City’s adopted standards and criteria and consistency with the Statewide Planning Goals and City’s Comprehensive Plan.

The development of the MMV property is probably one of the most contested since its annexation into the city urban growth boundary. After three Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) filings by Mark Adolf and Pinnacle Alliance, the original owners of the property — the Reed, Willitts, and Kallberg families — decided to put the property on the market and chose Hayden Homes to be the new owners.

The original MMV plans called for the development to contain a senior-living facility, a community “lodge” or center, individual senior cottages, low-income senior apartments by Bend developer Rob Roy, and some single-family homes, all centered around a community park and garden. Adolf was originally contracted to build the senior-living facility, but was unable to secure the necessary funding.

After three years, when the contract was not extended again, another party was brought in to build and run the senior facility, but repeated LUBA appeals stalled the process. After years of delays, the decision was made to sell the property to Hayden Homes. At that point, the original Master Plan was no longer in force.

MMV is directly adjacent to another Hayden development, Village at Cold Springs. The homeowners in VCS appealed to both Hayden and the City to allow the installation of emergency gates on Hill and Williamson Avenues, which would connect VCS and MMV.

Their request was based on two fundamental facts: The narrow streets in VCS are privately maintained (repaired, plowed, etc.) by the homeowners association, which contends increased traffic from the connection will increase costs for the residents in VCS. The streets in MMV will be installed at the current code width of 36 feet. The VCS residents have significant safety concerns regarding traffic cutting through their development on narrow streets at higher than posted speeds where children play and ride their bikes, and residents park their cars.

Hayden Homes and the Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District agreed to the installation of gates that could be opened in case of emergencies and to facilitate work by the City Public Works Department.

Despite reams of emails, letters, data, photographs and repeated testimony by homeowners in VCS and their legal counsel at both Planning Commission and City Council public hearings, the final vote at last Wednesday’s special Council meeting — for now — puts an end to the discussion by approving Ordinance 496 which includes connecting Hill and Williamson avenues.

The decision to disallow the gates was made based on current City code requirements for traffic connectivity and the original easements which were required and designed to accommodate future street connections.

There is another avenue for the VCS homeowners association. They can file an appeal with LUBA to have the City decision re-evaluated. HOA President Doug Wills told The Nugget that following last week’s meeting, he was approached by representatives of Hayden Homes to see if a meeting could be set to discuss what could be done together to help with the traffic flow.

“They really don’t want us to go to LUBA. We will see what they have to say… we will see where it goes,” Wills said.