By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Plenty of history at your fingertips

I remember when McMinnville annexed a pastoral tract of land along a dead-end country road. That was Fleishauer Lane, hardly a rural setting today.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Surges in population always produce spirited debate about the impacts of growth and pressures for expanding urban development boundaries. Today, McMinnville citizens are having passionate discussions about westside growth, transportation and other infrastructure capacities, state land use requirements, and the need to expand urban growth boundaries (UGB) to facilitate development.

Consider this comment: “The city falls significantly short of required acreage for residences, even by planning more units per acre, without expanding beyond our current boundaries … Growth also is turning McMinnville into a city where … the price of new homes excludes many families.”

Sound familiar? It’s from a News-Register editorial in June 1999. Another editorial that year was headlined, “Planners don’t deserve attacks for UGB process.” Today’s newspaper editorial proves again that history tends to repeat itself.

People sometimes remember that history differently. One writer today recalls an unreasonable 2009 McMinnville City Council rejecting a mediated compromise among UGB planners and objectors. I have a more expanded recollection of the city’s ill-fated, 22-year UGB expansion effort.

Starting in 1993:

Appointed citizen groups studied and recommended enlarged UGBs, resisted by opponents of expansion; tediously, interminably, the city developed a growth plan that was rejected in 2004 by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC).

LCDC denial, based on technicalities, was accompanied by this agency staff assessment: “I think it’s a very good plan. The people who prepared it should be very proud, along with the council and the citizens … It advances state-of-the-art planning in Oregon.”

The city reconsidered, altered and resubmitted its plan to LCDC in early 2006. Opponents hadn’t gained everything they wanted, but the representative of Oregon land-use watchdog 1,000 Friends acknowledged the revision as far better than the previous plan.

Time passed; LCDC approved the revised plan; opponents appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals, which in mid-2011 rejected the LCDC decision. In 2012, LCDC again remanded, McMinnville City Council waved a white flag, and that 19-year expansion effort died on the shelf.

Recent comments in this space drew fire from people for allegedly disrupting private talks about potential compromise on a new UGB plan. Pardon us if we recall the past and warn against a repeat.

Look for yourself: All 225 News-Register articles published since January 1999 and including “UGB” are at your fingertips in our online archive.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com.

Comments

Don Dix

Jeb -- As you have pointed out, those who oppose any growth have done so since the 90s. It's the same faces and BS rhetoric going on 25 years. All the accolades thrown toward Mac's various UGB plans have been a facade. There has never been any intent (on the part of the no-growthers) to support ANY UGB plan. If there was one, someone please explain such specifically.

Here is an example of the duplicitous nature of these naysayers: The no-growth faction came into being in Mac in the mid 90s. For a solid year plus, residents were subjected to a mantra of feeble reasons to reject any approval of UGB expansion. The Walker Addition (an island inside the city limits) was opposed simply because the owner 'grew tired' of dealing with the no-growthers at every turn, and cut them out of the discussion. Many people knew what was planned for this land, but the opposition called for a no vote on the annexation -- apparently because they had no input (as if they had a window to bitch about everything). The expansion passed at the ballot and Mac had a brand new park -- Discovery Meadows. And from the opponents - 'we didn't know it was to become a park!' -- opposition for the sake of opposition -- it's what the no-growthers have always been all about.