BLM forks over $100,000 in SDC fees to Medford

The Bureau of Land Management decided to pay disputed system development charges for its new construction on Biddle Road, ending the legal squabble with the city of Medford.

"The solicitor did give the advice that the fee should be paid," said Jim Whittington, public affairs specialist for BLM in Medford.

He said the agency will first verify the amount, which the city puts at about $100,000, and will pay soon after.

The fees are for a 5,152-square-foot addition to the BLM office at 3040 Biddle Road in Medford. Construction began in May. The Forest Service will relocate its Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest supervisor's office from downtown Medford (in the same building occupied by the main downtown post office) to the BLM Medford District headquarters.

The BLM's regional office staff told the city initially that the agency was exempt from the system development charges. The city pressed the issue and it was referred to the U.S. Department of Interior's legal staff in Portland. Government agencies are exempt from paying property taxes, but the city's legal staff argued SDCs are a fee.

SDCs cover the cost of future infrastructure improvements needed as a result of development. That includes wastewater, drainage, flood control, streets and parks.

Whittington said the local BLM office was not trying to be antagonistic with the city, rather people who don't normally deal with the construction process were putting their interpretation on the regulations.

Cory Crebbin, Medford public works director, said a letter the city received Wednesday from the BLM stated the agency's legal staff said the SDCs will be paid.

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