Multiple views at Bend UGB meeting

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: July 27. 2007 5:00AM PST

Hundreds of people packed a meeting room at the Deschutes County Services Center for a public hearing Thursday about Bend’s proposed urban growth boundary and urban reserve area expansion.

Representatives from Bend-La Pine Schools, Bend Metro Park and Recreation District and local irrigation districts, as well as local developers and residents spoke up to criticize and, in a handful of cases, praise the city’s proposals.

The city is proposing to expand the urban growth boundary by about 5,000 acres, almost exclusively in the area north of the current city limits. The concentration of property led some in attendance to pointedly accuse the city of drawing the UGB map to include 850 acres of the planned Juniper Ridge mixed-use development.

“It’s obvious by the size of the crowd in this room this is a matter of great interest to a lot of people. However, the appearance of the process is one of a preordained outcome and, because of that, it brings into question the lines on the map and whether the process falls under state statutes,” said Liz Dickson, the general counsel for the Central Oregon Irrigation District.

“It is of concern to COID that the appearance of the process is that the map was drawn before the analysis was done,” she said.

Juniper Ridge could eventually cover 1,500 acres northeast of Bend and include a university, research and development park, businesses and homes.

At the outset of the meeting, Deschutes County Planning Commissioner Mike Shirtcliff said he wanted those in attendance to understand the difference between the urban reserve and urban growth boundary. The public hearing was broken into two parts, with those interested in testifying about the urban reserve area speaking first and the UGB coming second.

“The urban reserve is a 50-year growth plan for the city,” said Peter Gutowsky, a senior planner with Deschutes County. “That is a noticeable distinction with the urban growth boundary, which is a 20-year growth plan for the city.”

About 10 years ago, Bend’s city limits expanded to fill out what was then its urban growth boundary. Officials have been working on expanding the boundary, which is intended to help the city manage growth, for several years.

Bend-La Pine Schools and park and recreation officials said they were worried that schools and parks were not taken into consideration in the urban reserve area and UGB process. John Rexford, an assistant superintendent of operations for the school district, said he was still “stunned and disappointed” with the UGB plans.

After an initial expansion proposal did not include land where the school district had intended to build a new elementary school, the city added about 80 acres on the west side of Bend to the UGB in order to meet the plans. But officials said Thursday the school is still up in the air because not all of the property is included in the proposed UGB.

In addition to various agencies’ officials, many residents in the affected areas questioned why their properties were or were not included in the urban reserve or UGB areas.

“I’m not in the (proposed) Bend urban reserve, and I’m not in the Bend urban growth boundary expansion, yet I border on both, so it’s sort of a unique situation,” Fred Boos said. “I’m kind of ambivalent which direction it goes, but the only thing I’m not ambivalent about is I want to make sure the property that’s surrounding my property is equivalent. I don’t want a subdivision on one side of me and an urban reserve property on the other side and I’m neither.”

D.C. Scofield added that he has been waiting for several years for his land to be brought into the UGB.

“I purchased in November 1991, 16 years ago, some property for the family — the intention was to make an investment property off of it so that they could have an education,” Scofield said. “I’ve waited 16 years for the UGB to come up, and I’ve been placed in the urban reserve area … I feel that we should be in the urban growth area so that we could develop our property a little bit.”

Another public hearing on the city’s UGB expansion will take place at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6 in the Deschutes County Services Center.

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