Twenty-two years ago, when former Jefferson County Commissioner Gordon Shown platted the Bitterbrush Ridge subdivision in north Madras, he had no idea that it would take decades to get approval for the final phase.
Today (Nov. 1), Shown, who now lives in Terrebonne, hopes that the Jefferson County Commission will grant its first approval to a Measure 37 subdivision.
In the early 1980s, Shown developed Bitterbrush Ridge, which was supposed to have four phases. Twelve parcels were platted on the rural residential property before the county was forced to return it to exclusive farm use.
"They down-zoned the balance to farm ground in 1984," said Shown. "I had all of it surveyed, including the property we're developing now."
In late July, Shown was granted a Measure 37 waiver on his 68-acre parcel, which has never had irrigation rights, to allow him to divide it into 31 lots of 2 acres or more.
Measure 37 was passed by state voters in 2004 to allow longtime property owners to seek compensation when state or local government enacts laws that restrict, or reduce the value of, their property. Government has the right to waive regulations, as Jefferson County has done, rather than paying compensation.
In a hearing Oct. 11 before the County Commission, which is serving as the review board for the application, Shown and Duncan Brown, a planner from OTAK Inc. of Bend, discussed plans for the subdivision. The lots will have onsite sewage disposal, domestic water from Deschutes Valley Water District, and roads within the subdivision built to county standards and dedicated to the county.
Primary access to the subdivision will be off Hilltop Lane, which drew comments on safety issues from many of those attending the hearing.
Although the road is marked with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, "a lot of people don't drive what they're supposed to," said neighbor Sam Brown, pointing out that with an estimated average of nine trips a day per home, the subdivision will generate about 279 trips each day.
Roger Tathwell, who owns a nearby lot, noted that there are many people who walk their dogs, bike, or jog along the road. "It was never designed to be an arterial, and that's what it's becoming," he said.
Because of the traffic in the morning, Carlos Kemper said that he always waits for most people to go to work before he heads out for a walk. "We won't be able to go on those roads at all," he added.
After some expressed concern about a fire in the area, which is served by only one road, Shown explained that he has agreed with the fire department to extend Grimm Drive north to Cherry Lane to provide an all-weather gravel road as an emergency exit.
In the event of a fire or other emergency, the fire department would likely have a key to a gate within the subdivision, which would be opened to allow all area residents to exit to Cherry Lane.
The commission scheduled deliberations on the subdivision proposal for Nov. 1, 11:30 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room in the Jefferson County Courthouse Annex.
"We've met all the criteria, so hopefully it will be done," said Shown.