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Urban renewal debt limit discussion to continue

Agency to talk about annexations, infrastructure projects on Monday

The city of Sandy’s Urban Renewal Agency, comprising the City Council and representatives of Sandy Fire and the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce, is expected to continue a discussion of expanding the urban renewal debt limit at the Council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 4.

At a previous meeting on April 6, city administrators introduced the idea to annex two islands (properties surrounded by city limits within the city’s urban growth boundary) so bordering roads could be improved using extended urban renewal funds.

An extension of Bell Street to connect with 362nd Avenue was one of several projects for which the city discussed focusing expanded urban renewal funds. CONTRIBUTED GRAPHIC: CITY OF SANDY - Annexing Sandys property islands, shown in the map in striped green, was named as a City Council goal in January and spurred by discussions of expanding the urban renewal debt limit.

Other projects include the purchase and renovation of the Sandy pool and Cedar Ridge property into a recreation and aquatic center and the continuation of a city façade program to improve storefronts and streetscapes in downtown Sandy.

Sandy’s current Urban Renewal Plan was adopted in December 1998 and was amended once to increase the maximum indebtedness from $5 million to $18 million. The amendment the city proposes would increase the amount to approximately $59.5 million or $64.75 million, depending on if the city decides to make the change with or without revenue sharing.

The extension process awaits a plan presentation to the city’s overlapping taxing agencies including the city of Sandy and Clackamas County, among others. The plan would need approval from 75 percent of those agencies to move forward.

The urban renewal discussion is not the only reason the Council has brought up island annexation.

In January, the Council set a goal to annex all the city’s property islands.

This process was expedited for two islands because of the need for a quick decision to expand the Urban Renewal Plan: Oja Lumber, located along Highway 26, and a parcel of residential land at the end of Bell Street.

While Oja Lumber’s owner agreed to an annexation, dissent among property owners of the other island and complications with the city’s code — including a necessary public vote and two-year waiting period on residential land — pushed the Council to postpone discussing annexations.

“I think they’re going to be two separate issues going forward,” said City Manager Seth Atkinson.

At a Council workshop on Tuesday, April 14, rather than eliminate the Bell Street project from the plan altogether, councilors decided to call it something generic, such as “street improvements,” and execute the plan if the annexations go through in the future.

“I personally think that’s a great idea,” Atkinson said.

The Bell Street project will not be funded until 2028.

If the annexations do not go through, the urban renewal funds can be used for other infrastructure improvements within the city.