Council Moves Forward Plan to Create New Urban Renewal District

A potential new east-west street connecting Highway 395 to N.E. Fourth Street would relieve congestion in the busy north Highway 395 corridor between Theater Lane and Elm Avenue. (City of Hermiston Screen shot)

A plan to create a North Hermiston Urban Renewal District is being recommended to go through the public review process following Monday night’s Hermiston City Council meeting.

The council, which also acts as the Hermiston Urban Renewal Agency, voted to move the plan over to the Hermiston Planning Commission for its review.

The reason for creating the new district is to ease congestion in the busy north Highway 395 corridor between Theater Lane and Elm Avenue and to address infrastructure deficiencies that are limiting the development potential in the proposed district, said City Planner Clint Spencer. The biggest ticket price of the plan will be the construction of a new east-west street connecting Highway 395 to N.E. Aspen Drive and intersecting N.E. Fourth Street. There will also be a north-south extension of N.E. North Street.

This new connecting street will provide nearly 1,300 feet of new street frontage for an area which currently has less than 100 feet of highway frontage. The street will also provide pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

Spencer said the new connecting street will ease pressure on Highway 395.

“Both of these investments will facilitate the future development of undeveloped parcels in the district,” Spencer said.

A new signal is also proposed for the Highway 395-Aspen Drive intersection. This signal is
intended to ease congestion on Highway 395 and to provide better traffic spacing, allowing more left turns onto the highway.

A new municipal water line will follow the N.E. Aspen Drive route, looping water between the highway and N.E. Fourth Street and providing service to new businesses along the

Creating a new urban renewal district allows the city to take the assessed value within an area and freeze that property tax at today’s value. As the tax increment and assessed value in that district increases over time, that increased revenue is used to pay for improvements.

Spencer said it will take 16 years of tax increment collections to fully implement the plan.

The city planner said land within the proposed district will have a frozen tax base of $57,095,267. Revenue generation within the district is conservatively projected at $6,162,000. Revenue foregone by the city over the life of the district – 16 years – is estimated at $2,112,369. The cost of all improvements is estimated at $4,834,407.

Now the plan will go to the Hermiston Planning Commission for review on June 14 with a presentation to the Umatilla County Commission on June 21. If there is no objection, the Hermiston council will hold a hearing on the plan on July 10 and could go up for adoption on July 24.


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