Is Seaside doing enough to inform people about potential new property boundaries?
The Planning Commission heard comment on proposed urban growth boundary plans during its meeting earlier this month, and residents pressed commissioners for more notification and information.
Property owner Buz Ottem said he believes everybody affected or possibly affected by the a potential urban growth boundary expansion “needs to be here.” Ottem’s Southeast Hills home is located in one of the areas potentially impacted.
“Anyone who lives where South Wahanna Road is going to be improved or changed should be notified,” he added.
Notification is so important, according to several property owners, because they believe the boundary expansion will impact their way of life by spurring development, changing traffic patterns, requiring more utilities and infrastructure, increasing crime rates and the need for law enforcement presence and putting a strain on the city’s emergency services capacity.
“Country living will disappear, along with my grandparents’ heritage and my peace of mind,” said Kay Kjemhus, who lives on Huckleberry Drive.
City staff says it sent at least one notice to those within the proposed expansion areas, as well as those who own adjacent property. After last month’s meeting, when the commission honed in on acquiring land for the boundary from three different sites instead of one, people who own adjacent property within 100 feet of the proposed boundary changes were notified about the possible expansion.
The city is interested in expanding its urban growth boundary to provide adequate land to support Seaside’s estimated population growth over 14 years. Originally, the city was using a 20-year land-needs analysis, which showed the growth boundary would require about 197 additional acres to satisfy the city’s projected population in 20 years. The proposed amount of acres was scaled back nearly 30 percent, to 137.5 acres, to instead satisfy the city’s projected population in 14 years, a more conservative estimate, according to Don Hanson, of HLB Otak, who is consulting with the city on the project.
In a final report submitted by Otak in early January, the proposed Southeast Hills site, near South Wahanna Road, would provide 80.7 acres; the North Hills site, east of North Wahanna Road with potential access from Shore Terrace and Ocean Avenue, would provide 33.8 acres; and the Lewis and Clark Hills site, north of Lewis and Clark Road, would provide 23 acres.
At the commission’s meeting in December, the proposed amount of acres to satisfy a 14-year land-needs analysis was about 142. However, after the last work session, they modified the amount by 4.2 acres to account for vacant land near the Cove that is in the urban growth boundary but was not originally accounted for, Hanson said.
One resident who lives adjacent to the Lewis and Clark Hills site said he first received notification about the possible expansion in December, not enough time to provide input before the release of the Otak report.
Maria Pincetich, who also lives in the Southeast Hills area, shared the Oregon Regulatory Statute regarding notice requirements for local quasi-judicial land use hearings, which states property owners should be notified if their property is located: within 100 feet of the property that is the subject of the notice if that property is wholly or partially within an urban growth boundary; within 250 feet of the subject property if it is outside an urban growth boundary and not within a farm or forest zone; or within 500 feet of the subject property if it is within a farm or forest zone.
Planning Director Kevin Cupples said those provisions do not apply to this process because it is not a land use decision. Rather, the commission is acting as a recommendatory body that will provide input on a potential comprehensive plan change to the Seaside City Council, he said. At the request of the commission, staff did try to initially contact every person within the proposed expansion areas and those who own adjacent property within 100 feet of the sites, Cupples said. The city also has notified the general public about continued hearings for the potential urban growth boundary expansion online and at each meeting.
Seaside resident John Dunzer asked the Planning Commission to consider incorporating additional acres around the Cove area into the urban growth boundary.
Hanson said he does not think the area is optimal, with only one access point and limited acreage suitable for development.
Dunzer said he thinks the area has more developable property — about 55 acres — and at least one other way into the area. The Cove is an optimal location for the expansion because it would be a desirable place for new residents to settle, particularly as they are likely to be older retirees, he said.
As for the other sites, Dunzer said, he does not believe they meet “the needs of the people expected to move into this area.”
To come to a conclusion about the Cove, Cupples, Hanson and Dunzer planned to meet at the site and evaluate its potential before reporting the information to the commission during its work session. If they decide to “seriously consider” using land near the Cove for the expansion, Hanson said, the city will need to send more notifications to adjacent property owners in that area.
The public hearing was continued to the commission’s Feb. 2 meeting.