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Major planning updates in store for Madras

Some estimates have Madras growing to nearly 12,000 by 2018 and the city's land use laws could be updated to meet those needs
News Editor
   Imagine Madras with a population of 12,000. City officials can, and they're preparing to improve the town's infrastructure to meet those needs through careful planning.
   The first in a series of public hearings regarding major changes to the city's volumous land-use laws is about to begin in order to prepare Madras for an estimated population boom over the next 20 years.
   Amendments to the City of Madras Comprehensive Plan, Transportation System Plan, Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances as well as the Urban Growth Boundary will be considered in the coming months to address the needs related to these predictions, which are linked to growth the proposed state prison will bring.
   The first related hearing will take place on Dec. 19 when the Planning Commission reviews changes to the Transportation System Plan -- just one piece in a series of interconnected updates that justifies increasing the Urban Growth Boundary by 280 acres for residential areas.
   "It recognizes that developments are going to occur," said Chris Bedsaul, the city's interim planning director. "It identifies different routes that roads should take to adjust to projected growth in the city or to at least recognize that there's development that's already occurred and that there needs to be some changes in the flow of traffic within the city."
   Changes to the TSP significantly update the city's transportation inventory needs and provide specific goals and policies for Madras officials to follow. The major focus is improving connectivity between the east side of the city and Highway 97 to improve the downtown traffic-flow pattern. These revisions include a priority list of road projects.
   The City began work on a Transportation System Plan in 1994 and formally adopted it in August of 1998. At the same time, Madras was undergoing a periodic review on its Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which was partially completed. However, it did not take into account the impact of the proposed state prison to be built near the city limits.
   Last year, the city began work on a more sophisticated review of its TSP and Land Needs Analysis to take into account expected growth related to the prison. What resulted was a significant revision of its Comprehensive Plan, the TSP and its goals and objectives. They justify expanding the Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate the population increase over the next two decades, which has been calculated to reach 11,776.
   Other proposed revisions related to the TSP on the Dec. 19 docket include, specifically, the following:
   - Amendments to Chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the TSP, together with implementation measures to be placed within the City's Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances.
   - Changes to City Zoning Ordinance No. 528, which includes amendments to the text of Commercial Zone Section 3.5; the repeal and replacement of Residential Zone Sections 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4; the addition of new sections 3.6, 3.7 and 3.8; and the renumbering of remaining ordinances accordingly.
   - Amendments to the text of Ordinance No. 468 -- the city's sign ordinance. This includes regulating the size, placement and types of signs displayed in the city. A provision also prohibits any future construction of billboards.
   - Amendments to three chapters of the city's Comprehensive Plan -- Goal 9, Economics, Goal 10, Housing, and Goal 14, Urbanization. Changes included in these chapters pave the way for an expansion of the city's UGB.
   In the coming months, the city must also adopt an Urban Growth Area Management Agreement with Jefferson County to address a number of complex issues related to the proposed expansion of the UGB.
   There are three areas already recommended to be included in an expanded Urban Growth Boundary beyond the 182 acres for residential housing: the 102-acre Juniper Hills Park, 50 acres of land to be owned by Central Oregon Community College and the 66-acre Jefferson County Commercial tract near the southeast corner of the current UGB.
   Notices of the Dec. 19 Planning Commission meeting were sent out to property owners on Nov. 19 as required under Measure 56, which was approved on Dec. 3, 1998. That initiative was passed to give property owners fair warning when changes in land-use regulations could effect their holdings. Bedsaul, however, said he believes the majority of property owners will not have the value or permissible uses of their property significantly reduced or impacted.
   "The plans are done by professionals who make recommendations on transportation, flow of traffic and so on," Bedsaul said. "It's more of an informative document to people that may be effected by it. You may have a piece of property where all of a sudden you have a road going through it. That certainly would impact your desire to develop that land.
   "But in most cases it would increase the value of your property, not decrease it."