Medford may require pre-development hearings

The city of Medford is considering a proposal to require developers to hold a neighborhood meeting for affected residents before applying for city building permits.

Residents who have been opposing a pending housing project for recovering drug addicts in southeast Medford spurred the proposal.

But some Medford City Council members said today that residents' general lack of awareness and knowledge about proposed developments is a long-standing problem that needs to be corrected. Others argued the neighborhood meeting would give residents a false sense of security that their feedback at the developer-hosted meeting would have some influence on the project.

The Southeast Medford Citizens Organization has been an outspoken critic of the city's approach to notifying the community of OnTrack Inc.'s Generations housing project on Harbrook Road just east of North Phoenix Road. Members said the city did not do enough to let neighbors know that former drug addicts would be living in the housing.

The group asked that the city revise its notification ordinance to make more people aware when a development is proposed and to make a neighborhood meeting on the project mandatory.

Currently, a public presentation on a development isn't held until a public hearing at the Planning Commission, which is also the point when the commission votes on whether the project will move to the next step.

The council will consider whether to fulfill both of the citizen group's requests.

Another proposed ordinance would expand the area of notification about a proposed development to a 200-foot radius and at least 75 tax lots.

The council is not expected to vote on the proposed ordinances for at least two months.

— Paris Achen

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