Hermiston Council Holds Off on Annexation Plans

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Hermiston City Council
The Hermiston City Council tabled a request to annex 14 acres of land with a residential zoning designation. Instead, it wants to annex only a portion of the land and keep the rest of the property available for a commercial zoning designation.

A proposal to annex 14 acres of land into the city of Hermiston so that Good Shepherd Medical Center can sell a portion of it to a company wanting to build a residential care facility was postponed Monday night by the Hermiston City Council.

The property was to be annexed with a residential zoning designation (R-4) but the land’s commercial value has the city re-thinking the zoning designation.

The property is owned by Good Shepherd which plans to sell one and a half acres to Lifeways for construction of the residential care and treatment facility.

The council voted to table the annexation request and will ask the hospital, instead, to seek annexation for just the one and a half acres of land.

“I’m not comfortable annexing all 14 acres as R-4,” said Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier. “That is some of the highest quality commercial real estate in the city.”

Brookshier recommended that the city direct the applicant to partition the site off from the other 12 and a half acres and then request the smaller lot be annexed with a residential zoning designation. Mark Rossi of Pinnacle Architecture submitted the annexation request on behalf of Good Shepherd. The city wants the rest of the property to be available for commercial zoning.

The property is located on the west side of N.W. 11th Street directly west of the hospital. Hermiston City Planner Clint Spencer said that because the property is adjacent to city limits and within 300 feet of sanitary sewer services, it must be annexed into the city before development can take place.

The city council voted 8-0 to table the request.

“We’re protecting the hospital’s interest as well as the rest of the community,” said Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann. Property that is zoned for commercial purposes is typically more valuable than land zoned for residential purposes.

“This is very, very valuable property,” said Hermiston City Councilor George Anderson.

Urban Renewal Draft Plan to Go Out to Affected Taxing Districts
Also at Monday night’s meeting, the council, acting in its role as the Hermiston Urban Renewal Agency, voted to send the draft of the urban renewal district plan and report to all taxing districts that would be affected if the district is formed. The taxing districts will have a chance to comment on both the plan and report.

The city formed an Urban Renewal District Planning Advisory Committee this spring to make recommendations on district boundaries and potential projects aimed at revitalizing Hermiston’s downtown. The committee finalized its list of projects earlier this month. The project list includes the development of a festival street that would serve as a public gathering place in the downtown area; a grant program to help business owners improve building facades; jump-start loans; decorative street lighting; and improved parking.

The urban renewal district is expected to generate between $2.5 million and $4.5 million over a 20-year period. The money will not come from any new taxes but, instead, any additional revenue coming from increased property values will go to the urban renewal district instead of the existing taxing districts. Copies of the Urban Renewal Plan and Report are available on the city’s website.