City wants UGB decision soon

Written by Kelly Ducote, The Observer September 13, 2013 01:03 pm

Councilors request final decision from commissioners on UGB expansion, rezone 

The La Grande City Council voted Wednesday night to ask the Union County Commissioners for a final decision on the city’s Urban Growth Boundary exchange and rezone.

Commissioners indicated at their Aug. 21 meeting that concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration could stall the joint adoption of the ordinances necessary to expand La Grande’s UGB and rezone land near the airport for industrial use.

The FAA suggested the county update it’s Airport Master Plan, which currently does not allow water impoundments within a 5,000-foot perimeter. That was the source of concern for commissioners, afraid that some industries would not be able to locate there if they need water impoundments. The FAA also told the county and city officials that if the county updated its master plan water impoundment issues could be mitigated.

The problem from the city’s standpoint, though, is that updating that master plan could take two to three years.

“If we don’t get this rezone done, we’ve eliminated all industry,” City Manager Robert Strope said at the council’s meeting.

“We can’t afford to take two more years,” Councilor Mary Ann Miesner said.

The City of La Grande has spent the past seven years trying to meet its UGB expansion needs found in the Goal 9 analysis.

The vote to send a letter to the commissioners asking for a final, and hopefully positive, decision was unanimous.

The City Council also voted to adopted new Downtown Public Improvement Standards for an area that extends from Island Avenue to Second Street and from Washington Avenue to Jefferson Avenue. The new standards are the ones used for the first phase of the Big H project.

City Planner Mike Boquist said the new standards will provide a “consistent right-of-way design.”

After adjourning to the Urban Renewal Agency meeting, the group voted to accept recommendations from the Urban Renewal Advisory Commission that revise the policy of the agency’s discretionary projects. One of the biggest changes involves adding claw-back provisions in case an applicant receives project funding and then sells the property. The revisions also clarify the timeline in which projects must start and finish. The goal of the changes, according to staff reports, is to make the policy “more easily understood, with some ambiguous language removed or revised.”