Eagle Point reluctantly approves regional plan

EAGLE POINT — Although unhappy with increased density levels included in a regional planning agreement, the City Council unanimously voted to include them in the city's Comprehensive Plan.

Tuesday's approval was immediately followed by a resolution from Councilman Bill Fierke that said the city had concerns about the plan's density requirements.

"The council will thoroughly review this issue," Fierke said, "and may request an amendment to the plan to decrease the density requirements at the appropriate time."

His resolution was approved unanimously.

The Regional Problem Solving plan, in the works for more than a decade, establishes the outer growth limits for most of the cities of Jackson County for the next half-century.

Under the regional plan, the current density level of 5.2 units per acre will increase to 6.5 units through the year 2035 and then increase to 7.5 units.

Fierke said the council had already passed resolutions in 2005 and 2011 that said higher density levels were "not in the best interest of Eagle Point."

"I feel that the density issue, as it came out in the final draft," he said, "is not in conformance with those resolutions."

Councilwoman Ruth Jenks said she was concerned with the process of how the adopted density levels could be changed.

"One of my first questions, going back to three public meetings," Jenks said, "was if we sign on to RPS, is there a process within RPS where we can raise the density issue again? Not asking for any special treatment here."

She said she had received conflicting answers, but finally was told a municipality could ask to amend the plan at any time.

"It's complicated, and it's not a slam-dunk and there are no guarantees," Jenks said. "However, today, I feel comfortable with that information."

She said she thought, overall, the Regional Problem Solving plan was "good for Eagle Point, good for the region and there is the option in the future for us to continue the good fight."

Anticipating an additional 17,000 residents by the year 2060, the Eagle Point RPS, as adopted in the city's Comprehensive Plan, will add slightly more than 1,200 acres to the city's urban land reserve.

The RPS process was designed to establish areas for future urban growth within the Bear Creek Valley and to protect rural land between cities. In addition to Eagle Point, the five other cities involved in the process are Medford, Central Point, Ashland, Phoenix and Talent.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@live.com.

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