The Bend City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on a $1.1 million contract to bring in outside help to complete a plan for the city’s future growth.
Officials are under pressure from landowners, developers and others with a financial interest in the city’s expansion to update the urban growth boundary, the limit outside which urban development is not allowed.
The city has issued a notice of intent to award a contract to Portland-based Angelo Planning Group to lead a group of consultants on the project. Angelo Planning Group led a similar urban growth boundary expansion project for the city of Redmond, and the company submitted the lowest bid for the Bend project, according to a city staff report.
Oregon law requires cities to demonstrate the need to expand their boundaries. Bend began this process in 2004, and city councilors approved an approximately 8,500-acre expansion of the city boundary in 2009.
However, state officials rejected that plan in 2010 and sent it back to the city to fix problems the state identified. The city currently has until summer 2017 to correct the expansion plan.
The contract on the City Council agenda tonight covers the first of three phases of contract work, Principal Planner Brian Rankin wrote in the staff report.
Phase one includes public outreach, research into how much land the city will require in the future for housing, workplaces and other needs and how much of those needs the city can fulfill through redevelopment and infill. Earlier this year, developers and land use attorneys told city planners they believed restrictions on subdivisions in Bend — known as covenants, codes and restrictions — would prevent infill in many areas of the city, because of requirements such as minimum lot sizes.
If Angelo Planning Group gets the contract, the firm will continue to look into this issue, but Senior Planner Damian Syrnyk said in an interview last week that so far the information available to the city suggests these restrictions will have a small impact on infill.
“What we’ve seen so far is that it is going to affect our supply of land that is actually available over the planning period, but maybe not as dramatically as people expected,” Syrnyk said.
The city of Bend is seeking help from consultants because it has three long-range planners to work on the UGB expansion and other planning projects. The city will also hire a fourth long-range planner in the next few months for a limited time to work exclusively on the UGB expansion, Rankin wrote in an email on Tuesday.
Syrnyk said that work on the UGB expansion will speed up with the help of a contractor. The city’s goal is to complete the project by spring 2016.
“We are hoping that they really pick up the ball and move it forward,” Syrnyk said, referring to Angelo Planning Group.
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