State grants Bend expansion delay

State board says Bend can have four more years to expand boundaries

By Hillary Borrud / The Bulletin / @hborrud

The Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission voted Thursday to give Bend four more years to fix problems in the city’s plan to expand its boundaries.

The commission met in Salem, and Assistant City Attorney Gary Firestone said there was only a brief discussion before the commission approved the extension.

“It went smoothly, and we let the commission know what our approach will be,” Firestone said. “We are taking this seriously and taking the time to do it right.”

In February, Bend City Manager Eric King asked the state to give the city until summer 2017 to resolve issues in the urban growth boundary proposal. King wrote in a letter to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development that two components of that proposal have taken longer than expected to complete: the plans for how the city water and sewer systems will develop in the future.

State officials in 2010 rejected a city plan to expand the Bend urban growth boundary by approximately 8,500 acres. Since then, city planners have worked to fix the list of problems with the original proposal. The previous deadline for Bend to submit a revised plan for expanding its urban growth boundary, or UGB, was May 2.

In Oregon, the UGB is the limit around a city beyond which urban development is not allowed. Examples of the urban development prohibited outside cities include new residential subdivisions and sewer systems. Cities in Oregon must also prove the need for expanded boundaries.

Mayor Jim Clinton said that four more years seems like a long time to finish changes to the UGB, but few city planners remain to work on the project after government layoffs during the recession.

“We don’t have many long-range planners anymore,” Clinton said.

The City Council plans to reevaluate how much Bend needs to expand, and councilors might want to re-write the UGB expansion proposal to plan for more infill development and redevelopment, Clinton said. The city faces steep costs to maintain and upgrade its sewer, street and water systems, and it is cheaper to serve denser development than to extend more services to the edge of town.

“There is an interest in redeveloping Third Street as part of that Central Area Plan to make it more of a transit corridor, which would then lead to more mixed use and multi-family housing on Third Street,” Clinton said. “I think it’s certain that the next UGB proposal will be smaller than the last one. How much smaller, and exactly where, remains to be seen. I don’t think that the kind of city that was envisioned in those days is the kind of city anybody envisions now.”