Council Hears No Opponents to Proposed Urban Rewewal Agency

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The Hermiston City Council will vote to adopt a new urban renewal agency at its Oct. 24 meeting. The move would allow for a massive new housing development in the southwest portion of the city.

The city of Hermiston is a couple weeks away from adopting a new urban renewal agency that could result in as many as 1,300 new homes in the southwest part of town.

A public hearing was held Monday night during the Hermiston City Council meeting on plans to create a Southwest Hermiston Urban Renewal Agency to pay for improvements on a 353-acre piece of land in order to make it feasible to develop new housing.

The proposed development, formerly known as the Hayfields, but is now called Prairie Meadows, will be at the former C&B Feedlot. As many as 1,300 new housing units could be built over time with space donated by the developer for parks, trails, a food truck pod and other amenities. The developer, Luke Pickerill of Monte Vista Homes, will also donate land to be set aside for a future school and fire station.

Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan said the land has sat undeveloped for many years due to the prohibitive cost of installing necessary utilities.

Those improvements include building a 2-million gallon water storage reservoir, constructing a one-mile water main and sewer main to reach the property, as well as developing a 40-acre park that would benefit the entire community. The total cost for the improvements is more than $12 million. The new urban renewal agency will allow the city to divert new tax dollars for a set period of time to pay for the improvements.

Elaine Howard, a consultant working with the city, said people tend to think of urban renewal agencies as new taxes, but it’s not.

“It’s diverting new funds that would go to other property tax districts,” she said.

There were no opponents to the plan during Monday’s meeting. Steve Wilson of Monta Vista Homes praised the city for its willingness to open up Hermiston’s largest remaining residential tract to create new housing developments.

He said it’s Monta Vista’s intent to build affordable housing for all income levels.

“This project allows us to offer a variety of different housing,” he said.

Councilor Nancy Peterson said the council is determined to make sure no one is left out of housing options regardless of income.

“We all want a place to live,” said Peterson. “It’s not going to be only big houses. Were’ going to make a place for all of us.”

The plan will be formally voted on at the council’s Oct. 24 meeting.