Nearly half the slate of finalists for committees that will shape Bend’s growth plan come from the development, construction and real estate industries.
Some have a financial interest in the outcome of the process, because they own or are developing rural land that could be absorbed into the city through a future urban growth boundary expansion.
Charley Miller is one of the candidates for the advisory committee that will help develop guidelines to determine if and where to expand the city’s boundary, which is the line outside which urban development such as subdivisions and sewers are prohibited by state law. Miller said Friday that his family owns several hundred acres of land northwest of the city, and they would like the city to annex at least 200 acres of that through the boundary expansion process.
“We hope to have it come in,” Miller said. “I think it’s logical development around the schools.” The land is next to Summit High School and William E. Miller Elementary, as well as a new middle school currently under construction.
Miller said he is not the only candidate with a financial interest in the outcome, and overall the group has diverse backgrounds.
“We’re certainly not hiding any conflicts,” Miller said. “It’s a well-rounded group.”
For example, another candidate for the boundary committee is John Russell, a manager with the Oregon Department of State Lands. The department owns what Russell described in his committee application as “a substantial parcel immediately adjacent to the (urban growth boundary).”
City councilors said they were generally pleased with the spectrum of committee candidates. After all, city councilors were part of the Urban Growth Boundary Steering Committee that selected people to serve on the three UGB advisory committees. In addition to the boundary committee, there will be a committee to advise the city on how much land it needs for housing and a committee to identify the need for commercial and industrial land associated with job creation. This is the city’s second run at creating a new urban growth boundary plan. State land use officials rejected a previous version in 2010.
“What I was looking for was not only both ends of the spectrum of interests within our community, but I was looking for people across the whole spectrum,” City Councilor Sally Russell said Friday. “I really felt that all the way along the spectrum, there was enough diversity that I was OK with it.”
There are 57 finalists for the three growth boundary advisory committees, and 28 come from the development, real estate and construction industries, according to The Bulletin’s analysis of public records from the city of Bend and Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division, as well as the newspaper’s archives. There are eight committee members with professional experience in government, four with legal experience, three with a background in affordable housing and three with various business experience. Three committee members have backgrounds in conservation work, and three work in financial services.
There is also a handful of nonvoting members from the Department of Land Conservation and Development, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Bend Park & Recreation Department and Deschutes County government. The City Council is scheduled to vote at a Wednesday night meeting on whether to appoint the recommended candidates to the three committees.
City Councilor Mark Capell said the large number of finalists with development, construction and real estate backgrounds also reflects the applicant pool for the volunteer positions.
“We tried to fill them with as much variety as possible based on who applied, because what we want to hear is … all the diverse opinions,” Capell said. “I think those folks are more focused on that, because it’s part of their everyday life.”
City Councilor Scott Ramsay said it was important to make sure people with an interest in the process were involved early on, because city officials want a boundary plan that will have broad support across the community.
“Hopefully we can avoid some of the litigation and things we experienced last time,” Ramsay said.
City of Bend Principal Planner Brian Rankin said Thursday that selecting committee finalists was a balancing act.
“You don’t want these committees to be stacked with only people that have participated thus far, and you probably don’t want all people who are brand new and would require a lot of startup and education,” Rankin said.
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