Medford worries about losing control

MEDFORD — As the region prepares to designate more than 10,000 acres for future urban development, some Medford officials are leery about the prospect of relinquishing control of the city's expansion.

Medford City Councilman Jason Anderson said he doesn't like having to consult with other cities if Medford wants to change the boundary of an approved growth area.

At issue is the mechanism for amending the final Regional Problem Solving document that defines areas which could one day be designated for urban growth. A proposed arrangement would require two-thirds of all the jurisdictions in the planning process to approve any changes in those boundaries.

"If we want to tweak one of those (growth areas), and five other jurisdictions say we can't tweak these areas, our hands are tied," Anderson said.

The concerns were raised at Thursday's Medford City Council session during an update on the Regional Problem Solving process. The process, begun in April 2000, is a formal effort by seven cities and Jackson County, led by the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, to plan for doubling the area's population from 135,000 to 270,000 over the next few decades.

The RPS process is expected to receive final approval by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission in March 2008.

Councilman Jim Kuntz doesn't support the two-thirds, or "supermajority" proposal.

"The city's going to lose a little bit more control over how we shape our city," Kuntz said.

John Renz, regional representative for the Department of Land Conservation and Development, said other policy makers have expressed similar concerns, but there's been collaboration throughout the process, and the two-thirds vote would be required only to modify what has already approved.

Renz said it was "giving up a little for the greater good."

After the meeting, Kuntz said he had "reservations" about the supermajority vote requirement should Medford want to change the boundaries of a future growth area.

"I think the residents of a city should be able to determine the future of their city," he said, adding that he's heard the same reservations from council members in other jurisdictions. "I'm hopeful that the other cities respect what the proponent city is proposing. Unless there's a glaring error, the other jurisdictions should approve."

RVCOG Director Michael Cavallaro said that if the deliberations over the past seven years are any indication, the jurisdictions hang together. He said looking at it the other way, jurisdictions could be much stronger if they had regional backing. Planning for the valley's transportation and infrastructure would be far less expensive with a collaboration on urban expansion.

Kuntz said the jurisdictions do a good job of handling the regional water supply and regional wastewater treatment, but growth is more complex.

"I think development's going to be a sticky wicket," he said.

To review the draft plan, go to on the Web, click on Regional Problem Solving, then on Draft Regional Plan.

Public hearings on the plan have been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Jackson County Roads and Parks Auditorium, 200 Antelope Road, White City, and 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Talent Community Center, 206 E. Main St., Talent.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

Share This Story