City happy with change

By Kelly Ducote, The Observer November 18, 2013 09:21 am

La Grande now open for industrial business after county OKs rezone

Seven years of work finally paid off for the City of La Grande. 

City officials had spent countless hours working to get approved an Urban Growth Boundary expansion and rezone, and Union County Commissioners approved the change last week.

La Grande City Manager Robert Strope said he was “thrilled and delighted” at the decision by commissioners to adopt the ordinances that make the change complete.

“We’re really happy for the county’s decision to approve our application,” Strope said. “We’re really pleased that this process is done.”

County commissioners stalled on the issue in September amid concerns that the UGB expansion and rezone could conflict with the Union County Airport Master Plan, which prohibits water impoundments within 5,000 feet of the airport overlay zone. The expansion and rezone falls into that perimeter, which prompted commissioners to talk to the Federal Aviation Administration before moving forward.

In last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting, commissioners said the FAA had no immediate concerns with the exchange and rezone. The FAA also said that some mitigation measures could be applied in the event that a company would like to use water impoundments.

Commission Chair Mark Davidson voted against the rezone.

“I really think the location we’re at is not where it should be,” Davidson said at the meeting.

Commissioner Steve McClure said he agreed but that too much time had been spent on the matter for them to vote it down.

The city had changed locations once, extending the process by about a year.

La Grande City Planner Mike Boquist said the city will send materials to the state to make the change official and final.

“You get a certain amount of satisfaction because it’s completed,” Boquist said, adding that he is excited about helping the county update its airport master plan, as per a recommendation from the FAA.

The expansion and rezone means the city can now look for development opportunities.

“As developers submit proposals we can at least respond to those proposals. That was something we couldn’t do before,” Boquist said.