By editorial board • 

A look at growth from all angles

Today and next Tuesday, the News-Register is publishing a series that examines development near the intersection of Hill and Baker Creek roads.

Fair warning: As enterprise reporting goes, this isn’t Watergate. Development stories are usually reserved for insomniacs who don’t respond well to medication. That said, wake up. This is an important story for the city and its future. Many angles warrant this snapshot examination, starting with a basic question: “How does a city grapple with growth?”

On one hand, Stafford Land Company developments are like any others. They will add to the housing stock, perhaps altering the local markets slightly and increasing the population in a corner of the city — affecting emergency services and school district boundaries. Also, any major development working its way through the planning process is an opportunity for city government and residents to discuss how new neighborhoods should be developed. 

That’s where the Stafford developments are unique.

As recapped in today’s news section, the lands known as Shadden Claim have a controversial and dramatic history — all the way to a planning commission denial overturned by the city council so the development could proceed. 

Furthermore, the Baker Creek subdivisions are being built simultaneously as a major infrastructure project. The $9 million Hill Road renovation, part of the city’s voter-approved transportation bond, provided ideal timing for Stafford Land to develop. 

The past and present issues surrounding this development supply plenty of fodder. However, the most intriguing aspect is the future — and the unknown. After decades of westward growth, McMinnville is fairly bursting from its urban growth boundary. Buildable land is becoming largely hypothetical with only small pockets to fill in here and there.

Within about five years, any attempts to expand the city will require enlarging the urban growth boundary. That never happens without a fight.

McMinnville spent 1995 to 2013 trying to renew its 20-year comprehensive UBG plan. City officials and private citizens battled with land-use advocates through seemingly ceaseless appeal petitions seeking to thwart growth in the name of preserving farmland. Oregon’s land-use system handed growth critics too many tools. The city eventually pushed the pause button. 

The city is lining up pieces for its next attempt. A coinciding inventory of buildable lands and Great Neighborhoods study, along with the Mac Town 2032 strategic plan, will inevitably feed into a new round of proposed UGB expansions. Gentlemen, start your engines.

How that plays out could be affected by past and current neighborhood developments such, as those near the corner of Hill and Baker Creek. So it begins. This is history in the making. You’ll want to stay awake for it.


Bill B

What a well written commentary!!

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