By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Fur flies over draft economic needs analysis

In August 2012, the city agreed to let two development companies, Kimco and RPS Development, hire a consultant to redo the EOA. The city said it lacked the funds to commission an update itself.

Some residents objected strongly, saying the result was likely to be skewed, since Kimco owns 90 acres of industrially zoned land along Three Mile Lane where it hopes to develop a regional shopping center.

The city, however, argued that the process would be difficult to manipulate, and appointed a number of local residents and business interests to serve as an advisory committee. Planning Director Doug Montgomery noted at the time that the city could ultimately choose to reject the analysis if dissatisfied with it.

Now, according to protests from Friends of Yamhill County and its parent 1000 Friends of Oregon, their fears have been realized.

“The draft EOA is not a policy-neutral analysis, with an objective assessment of future employment in McMinnville and its capacity needs, including land needs,” the letter states. “Rather, the draft EOA has a clear purpose: To secure rezoning of the Kimco industrial land on Highway 18 for a regional shopping center. The EOA contains inappropriate and self-serving verbiage, suggestions, assumptions, and policy choices, as well as factual inaccuracies, which in combination have the effect of steering the city toward Kimco’s desired outcome.”

One area they take particular issue with is the prediction of future industrial jobs.

In 2010, the memo from the two groups notes, “22 percent of McMinnville’s jobs were industrial, down from 25.3 percent in 2003. By contrast, 35 percent of Yamhill County’s jobs were industrial. The industrial 2010 percentages for the 10- county area, Oregon, and US were 26 percent, 25 percent, and 25 percent, respectively. The draft EOA gave the Committee only two choices for the future: either assume that McMinnville’s industrial share will fall to 19 percent by 2033, or assume that it will hold steady at the current 22 percent. The committee chose the latter …

“But there is a third option: McMinnville can assume that its industrial share will rise in the future, to at least the Oregon and US average of 25 percent industrial, or perhaps even further, given Yamhill County’s 35 percent mix. That option was not presented in the draft EOA, yet it is a defensible and reasonable choice that other cities regularly make. This one choice would increase the industrial land need by 55 acres; it would eliminate the so-called industrial surplus of 53.6 acres.”

It also, the memo states, would “make the draft EOA more consistent with the Oregon Employment Department’s regional forecast.”

As a consequence, the two groups are urging the committee to revamp the analysis before presenting it to the city.

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