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Development looming in Damascus

OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - Damascus voted to disband in the May 2016 electon.Since the residents of Damascus voted in the May primary election to disincorporate their city, questions have been raised regarding the future of housing development in the vicinity.

As the city fades to black on July 17, Metro's regional planner Ted Reid said there are no immediate plans plans to expand or shrink the urban growth boundary. And Reid said that's where things should stay, at least for a while.

In 2002, Metro brought Damascus into the boundary to help it meet its required 20-year supply of developable land. Even as that window has long since closed, Metro is still optimistic that new homes and businesses will start springing up in the area.

This scene has played in the context of a regional housing shortage. However, Metro maintains that it is not for a lack of land to build.

Rather, housing construction came to a near standstill during the Great Recession beginning in 2008, but housing demand in the area continued to rise. “The market is trying to play catch up at this point,” Reid said.

Damascus’ brief and turbulent life as a city has long been regarded with uncertainty by Metro. The agency modeled a disincorporation scenario in the 2014 Urban Growth Report, and estimated 20,000 planned homes.

Reid said that number is actually closer to 7,000 or 8,000. What the original number suggests is what is allowable under adopted plans, which in Damascus, never materialized. The second set of numbers takes what is allowable into account when deciding the real growth capacity of a region.

Much of this will happen under the aegis of Happy Valley, the community next door where development has been happening for sometime.

“We want all of the areas brought in to succeed over time,” said Reid. “We’re seeing a lot of housing being built around the region.”

So, what will the future of Damascus look like?

While a number of factors determine what type of development is established — such as the cost of infrastructure, for example — and how much, Reid anticipates that the household of the future is a smaller household, one that takes budget restrictions of area residents in mind.

“There’s definitely a market for the house and the yard,” said Reid. “There is land available. And we look at this question every six years.”