Bend looks at infill

Developers question city’s buildable land figures

By Hillary Borrud / The Bulletin / @hborrud

Published Jan 23, 2014 at 12:01AM

If you go

What: Bend Urban Growth Boundary Remand Task Force meeting

When: 1 p.m. Friday

Where: 710 N.W. Wall St., Bend

Developers and local land use attorneys say legal restrictions common in subdivisions throughout Bend will prevent future infill development in many areas.

City planners working on an update of Bend’s growth plan have identified 5,151 acres of developed land where the current zoning would allow property owners to build more homes. According to the city, there is potential for infill development of 2,496 housing units, mostly single-family homes.

But covenants, codes and restrictions on lots in many areas prevent the density of development allowed under city zoning ordinances.

“Most people who live in subdivisions are not developers, they’re landowners who appreciate a certain neighborhood that they bought into,” said lawyer Bruce White at a recent public meeting. “I guarantee you people up on Awbrey Butte don’t think of their land as redevelopable. People don’t buy million-dollar homes because they’re interested in redeveloping them.”

The list of land with infill potential is part of the city’s residential buildable lands inventory that designates land as developed, vacant, partially vacant, with infill potential or redevelopable, according to a recent city presentation. The inventory is part of the urban growth boundary plan the city is currently updating. Land has infill potential if the lot is “large enough to further divide consistent with its current zoning without the removal of the existing (home),” planners wrote in the presentation.

The fewer acres suitable for infill, the more the city will need to rezone land or expand its boundary to prepare for future growth. That could benefit the development industry and property owners outside the current city limits.

The urban growth boundary is the limit around a city beyond which urban development is not allowed. Oregon requires cities to prove the need to expand their boundaries, and Bend began this process in 2004. City councilors approved expanding the boundary by approximately 8,500 acres in 2009, but state officials rejected that plan in 2010 and sent it back to the city to fix problems the state identified. In 2013, a state commission gave the city until summer 2017 to correct the expansion plan.

Senior Planner Damian Syrnyk said employees at Brooks Resources Corporation and AmeriTitle are currently compiling the CC&Rs for subdivisions . Planners could use this information to subtract land that cannot be developed from the potential infill land inventory.

Not everyone agrees the city should take the time to re-examine land with the potential for infill. Lawyer Elizabeth Dickson said there are multiple reasons certain vacant land cannot be developed, and looking at one of them could delay the adoption of a new city growth plan. “I’m very concerned with moving this process forward quickly and efficiently with as few challenges as possible,” Dickson said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829, hborrud@bendbulletin.com