Damascus, Oregon (PRWEB) December 08, 2012
The City of Damascus moved forward with its development of a comprehensive plan with a town hall meeting focusing on natural features elements and draft code language developed by the Planning Commission. The Natural Features Protection Strategy embraces the concept that protecting the floodplains, wetlands, streams and wildlife habitat within Damascus while maintaining property rights and allowing for growth are all very important values within the community.
“The goal of our town hall meetings are to involve the citizens in the process of constructing our comprehensive plan,” stated Chris Hawes, Chairperson of the Damascus Committee for Citizen Involvement. “The more citizen involvement we have, the stronger our plan will be."
Key element of the proposal:
When a residential property four or more acres in size is developed as a subdivision, 25% of the land will be set aside as open space. When a commercial or industrial property is developed, 15% of the land will be set-aside as open space. All significant natural features, such as stream corridors, wetlands, and steep slopes will be within this open space.
The Planning Commission is recommending the use of regional standards for natural water feature protection as Damascus’ local policy in the Comprehensive Plan. These setback standards range from 15 feet for small intermittent streams in flat areas to as much as 200 feet in deep ravines. The effect of this proposal will protect water and drainage ways throughout the City and provide equality and fairness for property owners, all while continuing to protect the more sensitive, forested streams.
Much of the discussion of the meeting consisted citizens asking questions of both city representatives and planning commission members.
Some of the key questions:
My property is designated as wildlife habitat. Does this mean I can’t do anything with it?
Answer: Protection standards only apply when a property is developed. They guide the design of the development. The standards will also assure there is development potential on every property.
How much green space for new development and does this affect my current property?
Answer: The proposed standards only apply when a property is developed. They have no effect until that time.
What if I want to divide my property?
Answer: When the City adopts a Comprehensive Plan and Development Code, hopefully in November 2013, then a property owner can apply for a land division. Many factors come into play including the availability of sewer lines, but until the voters approve a Comprehensive Plan, no land divisions can be considered.
“What we have are three groups of people with different concerns about the plan,” said John Morgan, Director of Community Development for the City of Damascus. “Group one are the current residents who want to protect the future of Damascus, and have concerns about how growth will change the city. Group two are the developers who want to know what the rules will be guiding development in the city. Group three are those that are concerned about the legacy aspect of their property and want to be sure the changes will increase the value of their property. All of these are legitimate concerns and what we hope we can address and get input from the groups at these the town halls.”
In Oregon, the purpose of comprehensive plans are to coordinate the harmonious development of counties, cities, and towns in accordance with present and probable future needs and resources in order to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the inhabitants.
“The plan has to meet state laws, and it will do that,” said Morgan, “but it’s going to be written by and for the citizens of Damascus, and reflect what we want in our city. To do that, we need their input in the town hall meetings.”
After each town hall meeting, the Planning Commission will consider the input from the citizens before making recommendations to the City Council for consideration.
Future town halls:
Jan 12 Sat Town Hall Meeting (Integrated Water/Parks Plan) City Hall 1:00 pm
Feb 02 Sat Town Hall Meeting (Transportation System Plan I TBD 1:00 pm
Mar 16 Sat Town Hall Meeting (Transportation Plan Cont.) TBD 1:00 pm
Apr 06 Sat Town Hall Meeting (Development Code/Zoning Map) TBD 1:00 pm
May TBD Town Hall Meeting (Comp Plan and Dev. Code) TBD TBD
For a complete schedule on the Comprehensive Plan Schedule, please go to http://ci.damascus.or.us/