GOLD BEACH An overflow crowd in the county commission chambers Monday generated considerable heat but not much light in a discussion of the Brookings Urban Growth Boundary.
County Commissioner Cheryl Thorp chaired the hearing, which had been requested by Citizens for Orderly Development who want to reopen the issue of population forecasting in the Brookings Urban Growth Boundary.
Commissioner Thorp sought to alternate testimony between opponents and proponents of the UGB.
Richard Calkins, Citizens for Orderly Development, said the six remand issues of the Brookings Urban Growth Boundary expansion have slowed the 12-year periodic review process.
You have provided the city the able assistance of the county planner. Otherwise you've e been waiting for years to do your tasks, he said.
Calkins said the main focus of Citizens For Orderly Development request for the workshop is for the population projections to be re-examined in light of the age and nature of previously utilized information (and) the recently provided figures for the Harbor Bench illustrating a 10 percent growth.
Calkins said if the Brookings Urban Growth Area is growing at the 2 percent rate the city has been averaging the last seven years, then there is no longer any justification for the threat to Harbor Bench farmland that is posed by such a huge Urban Growth Area expansion.
A developer friend who intends to pursue development in the Harbor hills has indicated to me that, in fact, the growth rate along Oceanview Drive is running 10 percent per year. Another strong indication that we must have more up-to-date population information in order to proceed, he added.
He submitted figures showing an average 1.9 percent growth rate since the 3.4 percent growth rate of 1996 and a chart showing the School District 17-C growth rate at 0.2 percent from 1993 to 1998.
Yvonne Maitland made a passionate appeal for protection of the farmlands.
Commissioner (Lloyd) Olds has been quoted as saying, I love Curry County too much to see it fall apart, she said. Most of us feel that way, newcomers more so, because Curry County for them was love at first sight passionate and protective.
Its awesome beauty permeates our lives and embraces us closely, a shared experience of mountains, rivers and ocean.
And the last of the Easter lily fields in Oregon spread out across the black earth, making Harbor so unique and valuable.
Ask the public if they want to share the city of Brookings growth experience estimated at $105 million sewers, storm water drainage and drinking water needed to service the Urban Growth Boundary. In a small community of low and moderate wage earners and retired seniors on fixes incomes the enormous cost involved in developing g the 3,500-acre UGB hardly seems to support sensible growth, Maitland said.
Rather it suggests short-term gain for the few at the long-term expense of the taxpayers.
Brookings City Planner John Bischoff told the commissioners that the size of the Brookings Urban Growth Boundary is based on the amount of land that will be needed to accommodate growth in the next 20 years.
Bischoff said during the period from 1960 to 1969, the Brookings area growth rate was 3.7 percent per year.
From 1970 to 1980 the growth rate was estimated at 2.2 percent; from 1980 to 1990 at 2.6 percent and from 1990 to 1999 at 2.7 percent, he said.
Although there is a slowdown at this time, were approaching a 3 percent growth rate.
Bischoff said bringing raw land into the market is a lot different than building on a city lot.
You pay $40,000 for a lot in the city because it has water, and sewer, etc. The developers will pay the cost to extend services to their properties because thats part of land development, Bischoff said.
Bischoff said that city and county staff are very close to an agreement with the lily farmers.
There are very few properties in the area that are suitable for development mainly small scattered lots, Bischoff said.
There is one 15-acre parcel available and that is owned by the farmer that owns the rest of the land nearby.
Under the Urban Growth Boundary guidelines, Bischoff said, purchasers must sign an agreement that they will not go to court to challenge normal farming practices.
Building the Urban Growth Boundary around the farm land provides more protection to the farmers, not less, he added.
Bischoff said the six remand items set down by the Department of Land Conservation and Development have been addressed for the most part.
The first remand item was to re-examine the amount of area needed for commercial land. That has been resolved.
The second remand area was to provide additional assurances that the farmland included in the UGB would be adequately protected. We are very close to agreement on this.
The third remand items required the Public Facilities and Services Plan to contain policies for conservation of water for the preservation of fish on the Chetco River.
Thanks in part to a grant from the state, we have a water conservation plan in place.
Bischoff said the fourth remand item was to get a coordination agreement between the special districts in the area the city and Harbor water and sanitary districts, the Camellia Park Sanitary District and the various fire districts in the area.
These agreements are currently in place.
The last two remand items are essentially textual changes to the joint city and county management agreement, Bischoff said.
Former Brookings mayor, Nancy Brendlinger said the city has been involved with the state mandated Urban Growth Boundary plan since 1988.
I take exception at Mr. Calkins remark that we didnt involve the public in the planning for this. The public has been involved in the process every step of the way.
There is this same small group of individuals who sought all along to delay the process and now theyre trying to force the county to spend money to go over it again. The items being raised now have all been covered, she said.
This is not about the rate of population growth.
The facilities plan is an overall plan of what you will need some day, she said. Its a document to tell people who want to develop in this area what they need to do.
I dont think these people are interested in saving taxpayers money. If they were we would not have had these expensive appeals, Brendlinger said.
This is about power, the power to control and manipulate peoples lives. The power to force certain people to pack up and leave, the power to say Im here, shut the gate. The power to turn the city and the county on its ear. This issue has been heard by the by Department of Land Conservation and Development. It was thrown out by the state supreme court.
The Urban Growth Boundary is required by law. We are so close to wrapping up this issue, we cant allow this small group of people to delay it now.
At one time our county had very high child abuse, spousal abuse and alcoholism. Unemployment and under employment are significant factors in all of these.
Going ahead with the UGB can bring employment and prosperity. I implore you to continue with the UGB.
As Brendlinger finished, the timer chimed and many in the audience applauded.
Dave Perry, Department of Land Conservation and Development field representative for the South Coast, said the population growth figures follow a study by the state economic development department.
These figures formed the basis not only for the UGB, but other facilities planning. There have been five separate studies done that consumed the available time and dollars. At this time there is no more state grant money to conduct these studies, Perry said.