City expands UGB at airport property

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Annexation of 609 acres helps streamline permit processing and adds to the city's tax base.

SUBMITTED ILLUSTRATION ENHANCED BY BECKY STEVER/MADRAS PIONEER
 - Madras airport operations areas annexed into the city's urban growth boundary are shown in yellow, while Daimler Trucks North America leased properties are shown in green.
In a long-term effort to bring more Madras airport property into the city's urban growth boundary, the Madras City Council unanimously passed an expansion ordinance Feb. 14.

The ordinance adds 609 acres to the city's UGB, including 414 acres zoned for open space and public facilities, with 296 acres for airport operations expansion, and 118 acres for proposed wastewater treatment lagoons. The remaining 195 acres will be zoned for "Large Lot Industrial."

"In short, the city wanted to expand the UGB to streamline permitting new development and expand the city's tax base," explained Nick Snead, director of the Madras Community Development Department.

"More specifically, the city owns the airport property, which is one of the city's greatest economic development assets," he said. "When the city works with a business who's interested in a new development at the Madras airport, the business needs to work with the property owner (city), the county for land use, the county for building permits, and the Federal Aviation Administration for federal permits. It would streamline the development process by reassigning the land use permitting to the city."

Janet Brown, Jefferson County manager for Economic Development, who works to bring traded-sector businesses into the county, has eagerly anticipated the change, and testified in support of the UGB expansion earlier this month, when the County Commission approved the change.

"It's not customer-friendly now, because the developer has to go to the county, because they have jurisdiction over land use," she said. "They have to work with both. Although both are great to work with, it's much easier if a business only has to work with one government entity."

Snead pointed out bringing the Daimler Trucks North America property into the Madras UGB will allow the city to both own the property and have control over land use, which is advantageous for economic development.

"Additionally, properties located in the city's UGB eventually will be annexed into the city," he said. "The property brought into the city's UGB through this UGB expansion will eventually be annexed, and when developed, would be subject to the city's property tax rate and thereby allow the city to provide its services to these properties."

Airport property is owned and deeded to the city in trust by the federal government from the war surplus act, according to City Administrator Gus Burril.

"We hold FAA grant assurances to always make sure this property does not infringe on the airport's ability to always serve aviation purposes," he said. "One of those purposes for additional lands of airport property not used for operations is to lease the property so as to support the ongoing operation of the airport (i.e. raise revenues for city grant match for capital improvements, payment of airport management services, air hangar maintenance, etc.)."

In addition to streamlining the permitting process, giving the city the ability to manage the land use process, regulating ordinances and the airport master plan, the annexation also extends the city's tax base to make city services more sustainable, Burril said.

The state of Oregon will still have the opportunity to weigh in on the annexation, but Snead is optimistic that the annexation will be upheld.

"There is always some degree of risk that the state or some other party may object and appeal," he said. "The city has been working with DLCD (the Department of Land Conservation and Development) for approximately two years or more to identify a lawful method of expanding the UGB."

Snead doesn't anticipate any objections or appeals. "At this point, it's very unlikely that would occur," he said. "The city did receive a letter from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development that they didn't see the proposal to violate the state's land-use laws."

Brown is looking forward to having the ability to offer large lots for industrial development. "That means (the city) can have developments up to 199 acres," she said. "We will save a chunk of land for future development."

"There aren't very many across the state, so we're one of the few that will have that designation," said Brown, who is working to finalize the designation through the state.