Uncategorized January 20, 2011

Should the Medford, OR school board be in the business of land planning?

In an ongoing deal, the Medford, OR school board voted 5-1 to approve a deal that would provide them with 20 acres of land to build a future school on. The Medford School board will receive 20 acres at the corner of Hull Rd. and Stewart Ave. in Southwest Medford, and in return they will recommend that a portion of the landowners adjacent property be moved into the Urban Growth boundary.

This would drastically increase the value of the landowners property that gets included into the UGB.

An Oregon State law passed in 2007 gives school districts a strong voice in directing cities which properties get moved into Urban Growth Boundaries. Can this possibly be a good idea?

Understandably this may be a good deal for the Medford school district right now, but is it their job to do land use planning? The property to be included into the UGB would still have many hurdles to get through before final approval. So it is not a given, but it is a very strong bribe, and the landowners would have a pretty influencial proponent.

I personally don’t believe that the school board should have any voice in what land is included in an Urban Growth Boundary. They get a piece of property in SW Medford and the landowners get land that they can build a mixed use development on. All this creates is more sprawl in a very peaceful agricultural area of the Rogue Valley.

We have too many small acreage properties within the city limits of Medford that are under utilized. Now I am a strong proponent of owners land rights, but something needs to be done to incentives these owners to developing these properties and infilling and using the currently available space that we have before we go out a make more.

Who knows what will happen in the future, but this seems like a bit of bribery that does not need to happen.