Prineville council approves city’s first plan for growth

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: March 28. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – After months of debate and revision, the Prineville City Council unanimously adopted the city’s first comprehensive plan at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Councilors and audience members reacted with applause and statements of “hallelujah.”

“Very exciting, very exciting,” Mayor Mike Wendel said just after the council approved the first reading of the ordinance passing the plan.

The City Council has been working on the comprehensive plan for more than a year and councilors have cited passing it as a top priority.

The plan lays out guidelines for future growth in the city – which has experienced a population boom in recent years – and emphasizes the development of “complete neighborhoods” with housing, shopping, schools and businesses within walking distance.

The comprehensive plan ordinance had been on the agenda for approval by the City Council at its last meeting March 13, but councilors wanted to allow Interim Planning Director Deborah McMahon time to respond to concerns from the Crook County Planning Department.

At the March 13 meeting, Crook County Planning Director Bill Zelenka said he wanted to make sure that the city’s comprehensive plan will honor earlier agreements with residents within the urban growth boundary about maintaining low-density housing areas.

McMahon and Zelenka said that negotiations between the county and city since the last council meeting resulted in the addition of some language to the text of the plan. The new sections say that development at the edges of the UGB would require master planning first. Councilors also passed a motion approving those changes.

“At this point I feel very confident that we have collaboratively worked with the county to resolve issues,” McMahon said.

Councilors approved the plan with little discussion, after months of back and forth with city planners and county officials. The city has operated under the county’s comprehensive plan since it was passed in 1978, but now will have a planning document specifically designed for the growth Prineville officials are anticipating in the future. The city’s plan, unlike the county’s, does not include specific ordinances for items like zoning, but rather offers general goals.

“I know it was frustrating to you to have us keep throwing it back in your laps, but I’m so glad we worked through that,” Councilor Betty Roppe said. “It makes me much more comfortable.”

Last year, several councilors said their goal was to pass the plan by the end of 2006, but that benchmark was not met. Senior Planner Devin Hearing said Tuesday that the extra time was needed to work through the concerns of different agencies.

“This has been a laborious process, but it’s the right process to address the questions brought up by the city and county,” Hearing said. “Sometimes it serves to drag it out.”

The next step now for the plan is review by the Crook County Court and the State Land Conservation and Development Commission. If the state agency finds any problems with the plan, it could come back to the city for further revision.

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