Prineville delays making decision on growth plan

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 14. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – The Prineville City Council again postponed a decision on its first comprehensive plan at its meeting Tuesday night to allow officials to respond to concerns from Crook County’s planning department.

Interim Planning Director Deborah McMahon said at the meeting that she received a letter Tuesday from Crook County’s planning director, Bill Zelenka, discussing issues with the city’s draft plan. Zelenka said he is worried that the plan will not maintain earlier commitments to residents within the Urban Growth Boundary about preserving low housing density in certain areas.

The city councilors agreed to postpone discussion on the comp plan until the council’s March 27 meeting to give planning staff time to discuss the county’s letter. Councilors also closed the public hearing on the issue.

“I do think it deserves the respect of a review and a response before we go forward,” Councilor Steve Uffelman said.

McMahon and Zelenka said that some of the disagreements between the city and county stem from differences in “philosophy” about specific guidelines within the comprehensive plan. Several councilors said they supported McMahon’s approach of creating a “policy document” that sets out general guidelines for growth rather than including specific regulations. The county’s comprehensive plan – which currently covers the city as well – includes individual rules about items like zoning.

“I full-heartedly support having the zoning ordinances separate from the comprehensive plan,” Councilor Betty Roppe said.

Ultimately, McMahon said, there may be some “fundamental differences” between the city and county over what is included or not in the comprehensive plan. She added that with a policy-based document, the council would first approve the comprehensive plan and then pass individual ordinances.

Approving the city’s first individual comprehensive plan has been a key goal for the City Council for several years. Councilors had hoped to finalize the document by the end of 2006, but negotiations with Crook County have held up final approval.

Officials have said in the past that the goal of creating an individual comprehensive plan is for the city to have a guide for its own growth as separate from that of Crook County. The draft plan states that it is a “value-driven” document that is intended to “reflect the vision and expressions of the community.”

The plan encourages planning goals such as maintaining Prineville’s “small-town character” while growing with “complete neighborhoods” that combine homes, businesses, schools and parks. It focuses on preservation of Prineville’s natural features, making the city more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly and planning for infrastructure improvements. It also states that it is a “dynamic document that will be modified, refined and changed from time to time when new values are determined.”

After approval from the City Council, the plan would be reviewed by the Crook County Court and ultimately the state Land Conservation and Development Commission.

Also at the meeting, Crook County Court Judge Scott Cooper presented the city with a check for more than $127,000. Cooper said the money was the city’s “proportional share” of excess revenues that came into the county building department due to the increases in the local housing market in 2006.

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