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Obie Companies gets height waiver near Skinner Butte

Councilor Emily Semple speaks before the height variance vote
Councilor Emily Semple speaks before the height variance vote

Eugene City Councilors voted 4-2 Monday night to raise the building height limit for development near Skinner Butte.

Obie Companies requested the change last year for two additional mixed-use buildings in the Fifth Street Public Market area. The variance would allow for 75 to 100 more housing units. Eugene’s planning commission had recommended the change in January.

Councilors Emily Semple and Matt Keating were opposed. Semple acknowledged the city needs housing… “However I don’t think this is the only place we could put another 100 units, and I’m just really concerned about any blocking of the butte. The butte belongs to all of us and we’re putting a lot of expensive apartments along the butte and the river," she added "… I don’t think this is the right thing to do.”

The vote clears the way for two 95-foot high buildings with ground floor retail and parking. Both sites are currently parking lots; one near the Oregon Electric Station and the other across East Fifth Avenue.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.