Eagle Point holds hearing on Region Problem plan

Regional Problem Solving was once before the Eagle Point City Council on Apr. 26. This was the eighth hearing over the process that began in 2000. In addition, there has been six workshops as well as a community survey.

The final product will be to create Urban Reserve Areas to accommodate a doubling of the region’s population over 50 years The council recommended approval of the plan.  Each city participating in the RPS has made a presentation  to the county.  The next step is for the county to forward the plan to the Department of Land Conservation & Development (DLCD).  Once DLCD accepts the plan, each site will be required to amend their Comprehensive Plan and implementing ordinances to show compliance with the RPS plan. After that, a mandatory appeal will begin at the state level. Should there be appeals (and those are expected) and then if the RPS plan prevails, it will become law. That would mean the plan can be used as an official document for Urban Growth Boundary (UGB)  expansions. Should the plan not become effective, the state’s current UGB process will continue.  Lands within a UGB can be annexed, those in Urban Reserves cannot be annexed until they become part of the UGB.

Considerations for the regional planning include:
• Regional population allocation
• Projected regional employment growth
• Employment allocation
• Housing land need
• Employment land need
• Regional transportation analysis

The Urban Reserve process is outlined in OAR Chapter 660 Division 21 and, among several requirements, is land selection based upon Goal 14.

In 1950, Eagle Point’s population was 607. Twenty years later it doubled to 1,241. Within just 10 years, (1980) it more than doubled. In 2000 the population was 5,130 and just 10 years later (2009) the population was 8,790. Based on these growth figures, by 2027, it is estimated Eagle Point will nearly double today’s population reaching 16,940. And in 2040, the county expects Eagle Point to be 21,449 in number. The RPS allocation for 2060 (50 year plan) says we will number 26,570.  Eagle Point is expected to see the greatest growth of all the communities in the RPS, which include Ashland, Central Point, Medford, Phoenix, Talent as well as the county.

Eagle Point established the following criteria for Urban Reserve:
• Avoid wetlands to the greatest extent possible
• Exclude 100 year flood zones
• Avoid natural constraints such as vernal pools and excessive slopes to the greatest extent possible.
• Do not split existing parcels for boundaries
• Look at being contiguous to available public facilities
• Ease of transportation access.
• Optimize urban form

When Eagle Point started looking at expansion,  a footprint of 6900 acres was considered.. Eagle Point  currently includes 1800 acres. Some of that acreage was across Highway 62 for light industrial and for housing. ODOT slammed the door on more housing across Highway 62 as part of Eagle Point’s plan. Eventually the acreage was reduced based on the criteria listed above and now stands at 1150 acres.

There is a 1247 acre buffer between Eagle Point and White City along Antelope Creek.

The state continues to want higher density. The UGB buildout is 5.5 residences per acre and as an example homes on the golf course or in the Ponderosa subdivision are equivalent. The state wants Urban Reserve Buildout at 6.4 to 7.75 units per acre. Barton Hills would be an example of that density.

City Administrator Dave Hussell told the council and the dozen in the audience that rumors saying Eagle Point has not given consideration to the impact the city and development has on Highway 62 is absolutely false and totally wrong. He also presented how Nick Young and Linn Road link to Agate Road and how Agate Road can serve an increasingly important link in the valley’s transportation just as does Bigham Brown, Kershaw and Foothills.

Three members of the audience commented on the plan. Tom Sisul, Sisul Engineering and a property owner in the area to be excluded from the urban reserve. He said he thought it was “a good plan but was not sure it was the best plan because of ODOT’s ability to strong arm you.” He also said he thought it would be difficult for Eagle Point to ever do much with the area zoned for light industrial because of the White City industrial area.

John Lewis, who lives on Rolling Hills Drive, said he and others have asked to be included in the city since 1978.  He expressed concern that the city was making rules only for large projects, schools, large developers and such, while ignoring the small five-acre parcel owners. His land is in the Urban Reserve area. He was assured there is no partiality being expressed or considered by the city. Both Mayor Leon Sherman and Hussell spoke to that issue.

Greg Holmes, Southern Oregon advocate for 1000 Friends, turned in a nine page letter.  He also commended the staff and said RPS will dictate all future plans. His letter concluded with five issues he wants city staff to raise and ask the county to remedy what he described as weaknesses in the overall plan:
• Compliance with all administrative rules.
• Reverse changes in latest plan revision and use a previous draft approved by the policy committee.
• Include specific policies consistent with transportation study findings.
• Identify mechanism by  priorities and funding for future transportation infrastructure.
• Adjust regional density targets upward.
At the council meeting, his concern was to add bikes and walking capability to the city’s transportation plan.

An additional $20 equipment fee for police department needs was approved.

The council was updated on the four million gallon reservoir on Riley Road. It should be getting an aluminum roof in place beginning this week.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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