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State cracking down on Damascus

by: MICHAEL CLAPP/OPB - The State of Oregon is cracking down on Damascus for not having the state-required growth plan.Oregon land-use officials are cracking down on the city of Damascus. Damascus is facing possible enforcement actions, because the city doesn't have a state-required growth plan.

Damascus has been a city for nearly ten years. Under Oregon's land-use laws, incorporated cities need to have long-term "comprehensive plans" approved at the state level. After years of effort and conflict, Damascus still doesn't have a plan.

Officials at Oregon's Land Conservation and Development Department have been aware of the problem, but delayed action until city voters could consider dis-incorporating, in the election earlier this month.

Not enough voters favored that move, so Damascus remains a city.

Now, for the first time in decades, the state has scheduled what's called a "contested case" hearing.

The process largely boils down to two questions: "is Damascus out of compliance?" and "if so, what should be done about it?"

Damascus officials say their city could lose state money that's about 10 percent of the city budget. They say the state could also block development, until a plan is approved.