Medford mayor tells Chamber Forum city expects more development

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    Building permits are being processed at a brisk pace in Medford, and the pace of development is likely to increase even more with approval of the city’s Urban Growth Boundary expansion, says Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler.

    Wheeler, in his fifth-term as mayor, ran down a list of city projects undertaken over the past year, and Council President Michael Zarosinski took a look ahead during Monday’s Chamber Forum.

    Speaking at Rogue Valley Country Club, Wheeler said the city has implemented a plan to reduce the impact of natural disasters on the community. And he said that 36 of 42 properties identified as blighted have been brought into compliance.

    The mayor added that competition from Uber and Lyft will improve the quality of legacy taxi service in town, and he said the enhanced parking and trail system at Prescott Park on Roxy Ann have boosted use at the popular facility.

    “There are some conflicts with the gravel pit that is up there,” he said. “But we are going to address that and make it safe for people walking on up, and better parking. We’ve had our own success come back at us.”

    The mayor noted the city’s pavement condition index improved two points to 76. He noted many cities are in the mid to low 60s.

    Wheeler said the Building Department has received a record number of development and building permit requests. This year more than 5,800 permits have been processed and 17,000 inspections performed. With state approval of an expanded Urban Growth Boundary, he anticipates more development.

    “With the coming of the Urban Growth Boundary, and how it’s going to work, we may see an opening of the floodgates on some other construction.”

    The city’s new Transportation System Plan — a guide for vehicles, pedestrians, cycling and freight movement — is being edited prior to a public comment period, Zarosinski said.

    He noted annexation won’t take place until the plan is adopted.

    As part of a community outreach effort, city representatives have met with more than 200 residents in door-to-door Operation Care visits in Ward 1 and Ward 4.

    Zarosinski anticipates the council will have a different look following the November elections with terms ending for himself, Clay Bearnson, Kevin Stine and Tim Jackle, while Kim Wallan is seeking the Oregon House District 6 seat.

    He said the Budget Committee will discuss marijuana tax revenue and PERS in preparation for budget formulation later this year.

    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him on Twitter at or

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