Who Stands to Gain from UGB Growth?

This article from The Bulletin includes a table with all of the property owners who might be included in an urban growth boundary expansion.

Who stands to gain from UGB growth?

Why (or why not) to come into Bend’s UGB

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Published Jun 21, 2015 at 12:03AM / Updated Jun 22, 2015 at 11:02AM

The city of Bend is looking to expand its footprint, but the best path for the city isn’t guaranteed to jibe with the future that property owners envision for their land.

There’s money to be made in the expansion. Outside of Bend’s urban growth boundary, the state and county restrict what sort of developments are allowed.

Moving from the outside to the inside of the boundary means a piece of property could be transformed from scrubland to a mirror image of NorthWest Crossing. However, the city isn’t looking to add only residential and neighborhood commercial areas. It also needs to designate land for offices, big box stores and industrial land. Some of these futures are generally more welcome than others.

“Now that the property owners are coming to meetings, there’s a different vibe to the whole thing,” said Brian Rankin, a Bend planner overseeing the boundary expansion. “The process requires that there be a balancing of the owners’ interest and the public’s interest. When landowners testify, their information can often be very useful. Or, it can also just be purely self-serving, in terms of getting what they want. We are committed to a public process, but we want to work with quality information.”

A much larger expansion of the boundary than the one currently being considered was shot down by the state in 2010. The boundaries are intended to protect farmland and discourage sprawl, and in 2010, the state agency in charge of the process said the city of Bend hadn’t made enough effort to add density within its existing footprint to justify its plans.

That expansion was intended to accommodate population growth through 2028, and as a result, some city leaders say the boundary is way overdue for an expansion, a factor which contributes to the rising cost of housing. To ensure the state approves the next proposal, which the city hopes to finalize next year, the amount of new land being considered has been reduced by more than half. As a result, however, fewer property owners will see their land brought into the city.

Based on a map of eight areas the city is looking to expand into, the property owners likely to be affected by an expansion are a diverse bunch.

There are the expected players, including wealthy, longtime Bend families as well as developers and investors. But there are also owners of very small lots, a famed cluster balloonist and the brother of the city’s highest profile retired NFL player.

David Ford, general manager of West Bend Property and a member of an advisory committee working on the expansion, said bringing a property into the city almost always leads to an appreciation in land value.

“But the answer to why or why not someone would want to be brought in can be summed up with zoning,” he added. “Does the proposed zone align with the owners’ wishes or thinking?”

To highlight this question, Ford pointed to an area to the city’s south along U.S. Highway 97. The property is owned by the J. L. Ward Company, which is behind a number of major housing developments in the city.

“One of the proposals for that site has it becoming all employment land, including large lot industrial, which restricts developments of less than 50 acres,” Ford said. “That’s a pretty onerous zone designation for anyone; it’s pretty draconian.”

Dean Wise, the Ward Company’s project manager, said his company is not too keen on the idea of hosting large industrial sites, but that it will wait to see what is recommended before advocating for any other particular zoning.

“The large industrial sites, we feel, are a burden to any landowner, and those belong on publicly owned land,” he said. “If the city thinks we need to have that land, it could go in at Juniper Ridge or (Stevens Tract), which offers an opportunity to not burden any private landowners. You never know how long you will have to sit on that designation before a potential owner wanders by.”

Weighing what he perceived as the most and least desirable zonings, Rankin placed large industrial areas on the bottom end and residential on the upper end.

“The number of industrial users is small and the market takes a longer time to manifest itself,” he said. “With residential, you can go out there and put up six single-family homes and you’re nearly guaranteed they’ll sell if placed at the right price point.”

Charley Miller, a member of the advisory committee who owns a number of properties to the west of Bend, has a vision for residential land extending west from the current boundary. In an interview, he said he’d like to see a neighborhood styled after the adjacent NorthWest Crossing developed on his land near Summit High and Miller Elementary.

Farther west, Miller and business partners have already proposed a low-density development under the county’s rural development code called the Tree Farm. With a designated public open area between the Tree Farm’s western edge and Shevlin Park, Miller says his vision will create a “soft edge” for the city, as density would decrease the closer one moved toward the park and U.S. Forest Service land.

“We’re trying to do something that’s proper and good for the community,” Miller said. “We’d have added to the public open space and created (a community with forest fire protection measures). We’re increasing recreational lands for the city in perpetuity and taking some land out of consideration (for urban development) with the soft edge.”

Ultimately what the expansion ends up looking like rests with a steering committee composed of the Bend City Council, two planning commissioners and Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone. Nonetheless, Rankin stressed the importance of involving landowners in the process.

“What you’ll notice is that in general, all property owners want the highest value for their land,” Rankin said. “But as a city, we know we need some of these uses that have less value to an owner. If you can get everyone working together, you have a much better chance in the end of implementing your plan. The city sets the zone, but we can’t make anything happen. We’re relying on private developers and landowners to actually do something with the land. If they don’t, it will just sit there.”

A key to getting a plan that can garner widespread support, Rankin said, is to involve people with very clear and often opposing interests.

“Everybody on the (advisory committee) knows where everybody sits, they know which lawyers represent which people, who represents their own self and who is fighting for their own ideological position,” Rankin said. “You have someone like Charley Miller, but you also have (Central Oregon LandWatch Executive Director) Paul Dewey, who clearly doesn’t want any development on the west side. Those are two opposing forces, but they’re working together on the process. If you can get everyone at the table to agree, then that should be a pretty good compromise. That’s the work we need to do.”

The advisory committee is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday .

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