Redmond to free acres for business

Agreement over traffic mitigation means eastside tract 'viable again'

By Leslie Pugmire Hole / The Bulletin

Published Nov 8, 2013 at 04:00AM

Redmond is finally close to new zoning for hundreds of acres east of the city center where state regulations on traffic barred industrial development for 13 years.

City planners eye the publicly owned 465 acres as a perfect spot to expand Redmond's industrial and commercial development. The Central Oregon Irrigation District holds 200 acres, Deschutes County has 215 and the Redmond School District has 50 acres of the site north of state Highway 126 and east of Northeast Ninth Street.

The Redmond Urban Area Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously recommended to City Council a zoning change at the site; the council will take it up after a public hearing Dec. 10.

“This will be a great economic feather in Redmond's cap,” predicted Brett Hudson, Redmond School District project manager after the commission vote.

In 2007, Redmond developed the Eastside Framework Plan to promote industrial use of the property. “We never attempted to rezone when we created the framework plan. We knew there were still barriers with transportation. The plan was just saying, 'These are the possible future uses for this property and where they'll be,'” said Heather Richards, Redmond community development director.

The Oregon Legislature in 2012 approved Senate Bill 1544, which allowed the city to move forward on rezoning as long as it reached an intergovernmental agreement with the Oregon Department of Transportation to mitigate traffic impacts.

Redmond officials and ODOT agreed in September to limit commercial zoning to 10 percent of the site and keep it away from the edges on Highway 126. The city also must set aside a minimum of one 50-acre parcel for light industrial development.

The commercial parcels, said Richards, are intended for service-based businesses to cater to workers on the industrial sites. Traffic should be lessened by encouraging workers to stay on site rather than drive around town for lunch, do their banking or get a haircut.

The traffic mitigation projects for the site will be phased in by need, based on maximum trip counts rather than specific dates. Included in the plan are turn lanes and roundabouts or signals at intersections expected to be impacted by development.

According to Richards, ODOT has committed no funds for the traffic projects. The city hopes system development charges will pay for them, rather than requiring developers to foot the bill.

“We didn't want to encumber the site with so many improvement needs that it would become unattractive to developers,” she said.

The current plan for the L-shaped section includes rezoning for 361 acres of light industrial, 50 acres heavy industrial, 46 commercial acres and eight acres set aside for a potential park or open space.

A large-lot industrial land needs analysis commissioned by Deschutes County to assess the region's ability to recruit and grow industrial development cites Redmond's strengths: airport, good infrastructure, central location for workforce and a college technology education facility. It also cites challenges, mostly revolving around transportation and working with diverse public agencies as landowners.

Liz Dickson, an attorney representing COID, praised the collaborative process that brought the site this far.

“We've all heard of public-private partnerships, but this was a public-public partnership and a really new way to solve problems. Now we can go to people with a very specific list — it makes the property viable again.”