PLANNING THE FUTURE

November 04, 2000 12:00 am

The expansion of the Brookings Urban Growth Boundary will be discussed by city, county and state officials Wednesday, but there are differing views on the possible outcomes of the meeting.

The joint meeting of the Brookings City Council and the Curry County commissioners will be held at 7 p.m. at the Best Western Brookings Inn conference room at 1143 Chetco Avenue.

Two representatives from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Dave Perry and Jim Hinman, will also attend.

Perry, the departments South Coast regional representative, said some people feel the boundary expansion process is moving ahead too quickly and want to revisit it.

He said the process has gone on for more than 10 years. The six remand items to be discussed at the meeting were sent to the city by the state in 1996.

Perry said as far as his department is concerned, the Wednesday meeting will be held to look only at those six remand issues. (See related story).

He said ultimately, though, it is a local process between the city and county. He said they could choose to go back to step one, though he wouldnt recommend it.

The legislature has recently put a cap on the process. That cap didnt exist when the city started years ago.

Perry said if the city and county did decide to go back to the beginning, they would only have six months to accomplish the entire task.

Included in those six months would be the follow-up work of public facility plans, planning coordination agreements, and master planning.

Perry said there were also no specific requirements when the city started the process that it plan for any particular time period, just that it plan for orderly and efficient growth.

New laws would require it to plan for 20 years of residential growth. Those new laws would apply if the city and county decided to start over.

Perry said his staff has worked with the city and county planning staffs since the beginning, and has few disagreements with the proposal as if now stands.

He said though the process has been complex and controversial, his department is mainly interested in seeing that state goals are addressed.

He said the department has upheld the citys main proposal because it addresses those goals. The main issue is behind us, said Perry.

All six remand issues have to be satisfied before the entire expansion can be approved, he said.

Once the city and county have come to an agreement, the proposal will be sent to the land conservation department.

After a 21-day public comment period, the department director could either approve the expansion, remand it to the city again, or refer the decision to the Land Conservation and Development Commission.

Perry said the remand issues could be appealed to the commission if parties dont agree with the directors decision.

If the director feels his decision will be appealed anyway, he may refer it to the commission in the first place.

Perry said the city and county have a lot of flexibility in how they reach their agreement. They could have a series of workshops if they want to, or decide the issue quickly. He said the state would continue to participate.

Curry County Commissioner Bill Roberts said the countys role at the meeting will be to look at the remand issues to see if they have been handled the way they should have been.

Roberts said he originally wanted a pre-meeting to gather citizen input.

He said County Counsel Jerry Herbage told him there was no reason the county couldnt have more than one meeting with the city on the remands if more time was needed for citizen input.

Commissioner Lloyd Olds promised at a commissioners meeting that there would be no time limit on testimony from citizens.

He later qualified that by saying he meant new testimony, not rehashing what has already been discussed.

The agenda from the City of Brookings indicates that a time limit on testimony may be imposed to allow everyone an opportunity to speak.

Roberts said Brookings Urban Growth Boundary expansion is a needed item, but there are also some concerns that need to be handled.

We need to really take a sincere look, he said.

Roberts has received phone calls from people worried that the infrastructure costs of the expansion may cause their taxes to increase. He said his main concern, as always, is to protect the taxpayers.

Roberts intends to study a thick packet of material on the issues prior to the meeting, and will also confer with county Planning Director Chuck Nordstrom.

Brookings Planning Director John Bischoff said the city is convinced it has answered all the remand issues posed by the Land Conservation and Development Commission.

We have worked closely with the Department of Land Conservation and Development staff, fisheries people and the lily farmers, to resolve each of these issues, Bischoff said.

But that doesnt mean the battle is over, he added.

As I understand it, each of these remand items are open to appeal since they werent included in the original suit brought by 1,000 Friends of Oregon and others.

If they are appealed we could be tied up for some time to come.

Mayor Bob Hagbom says he is hopeful that the hearing can be concentrated on the remand items rather than wandering all over the Urban Growth Boundary.

If so, the meeting can be completed on that night and approved by the city and county.

This has been going on for far too long, Hagbom said.

The city, the county and the state particularly the state want to get this over and done with so we can go on with our business.

Fred Hummel, spokesman for Citizens for Orderly Development, said the court of appeals ruling stated that approval of the boundary expansion is a sequential process.

He said that means it is possible to go back in the process and do some steps differently.

In his opinion, five of the six remands have not been adequately addressed by the city. He said that could lead to a complete review of the boundary expansion.

He sees his organizations role in the upcoming meeting as getting all the information on the table.

We would like to have a community discussion on what this whole thing means to the community, said Hummel.

CFODs role is to get good testimony in and encourage others to speak, he said, UGBs are supposed to promote compact, efficient communities.

Hummel is not necessarily optimistic about the outcome of the meeting, however.

He said the land conservation department is embarrassed by a 3,500-acre boundary expansion for such a small town, and just wants to wrap the process up and get it off its desk.