The Bend UGB Amendment & Impact on Local Business

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The State approved the City of Bend’s UGB amendment at the end of 2016. To ensure there is enough land to accommodate Bend’s growth over the next 20 years, the new UGB makes an additional 2,300 acres available for urban development, while also encouraging denser development inside the existing city limits.

For Central Oregon businesses and property owners, the amended UGB may provide opportunities:

to expand, relocate, or open a new business in currently undeveloped areas;
for existing businesses to remain in the same location, but expand or modify their operations in ways not previously allowed by zoning and land use regulations; and
for new development opportunities in already developed portions of town.

Land Use Regulations and Business

In Oregon, various state and local laws, rules, and policies, control land use. Importantly, at the local level, Bend’s Comprehensive Plan is as a long-term policy document that guides development, while the Development Code implements the Comprehensive Plan and regulates how properties can be used. Historic preservation codes, building codes, and other safety codes regulate land use too.

For businesses, these land use controls impact where, how, and even when a business can operate. For example, commercial and industrial uses are typically illegal on land zoned for residential use. Land use regulations can also impose development and design standards.

As an example, in Bend’s industrial zones, there are setback, building height, and lot coverage requirements. The development code also requires industrial uses be oriented to minimize off-set impacts of noise, glare, smoke, dust, and vibration. The City can also require a landscape buffer. These requirements can have a significant impact on where a business is located and how it operates.

Bend’s UGB Amendment

UGBs serve as the dividing line between urban development (inside city limits) and rural development (under county control). Cities adopts UGBs as part of their comprehensive plans. UGBs are designed to provide enough land for 20-years of growth and development inside city limits.

Accordingly, the intent of the Bend UGB is to provide enough land for 20 years’ worth of residential, commercial, and industrial land. To make sure there is enough land for these uses, the amendment focuses on two areas for future development: “Expansion Areas” and “Opportunity Areas.” Expansion Areas include lands that were outside the prior UGB, while Opportunity Areas are places inside the UGB that the City believes can be used more efficiently through redevelopment and infill.

Expansion Areas

The ten Expansion Areas identified in the UGB amendment are located all around the edge of Bend. Out of the over 2,300 acres of new land, the UGB amendment designates 815 acres for employment (compared to 1,142 acres for residential). Employment land, in general, includes commercial and industrial zones.

In time, the Expansion Areas may provide an excellent opportunity for businesses that have been unable to find the ideal piece of land in Bend due to limited land supply or conflicts with existing development. The Expansion Areas, however, will not be available for immediate development. Before the new land use regulations apply, the City will need to plan and install infrastructure and then annex land into the City. In the meantime, these areas will remain subject to Deschutes County land use and zoning regulation.

Opportunity Areas

Not all development will occur on new land though. The City will also look to accommodate growth in nine Opportunity Areas inside the existing city limits. The Opportunity Areas are:

Bend Central District (3rd Street corridor)
East Downtown
Inner Highway 20
Central West Side/Century Drive Area
KorPine Industrial Area(roughly between Colorado and Wilson)
Juniper Ridge (NE Bend)
COID Property(SW Bend)
River Rim (SW Bend)
15th Street Ward Property (SE Bend)

Some Opportunity Areas will be primarily residential in nature, such as the COID and River Rim areas. Others will focus on employment, with an emphasis on mixed-use development. Mixed-use zones allow for denser development. With mixed-use, the goal is to create a walkable community, where people live, work and shop within a small area.

Procedurally, while the UGB amendments have been adopted as part of the Comprehensive Plan, land inside these Opportunity Areas is still zoned as it was before. Accordingly, to take advantage of the new mixed-use plan designation in the Comprehensive Plan, property owners must rezone their property.

In the Century Drive Opportunity Area, two Bend developers are already taking advantage of the comprehensive plan amendments by applying to rezone their properties from its light industrial to mixed-use urban (“MU”) (one of the several different mixed-use zones). The MU zone is designed to provide opportunities for mixed-use centers and districts and is intended to allow for denser development with a variety of commercial and residential uses (with an emphasis on entertainment and retail on the first floor). This is a far different than the light industrial zone, where retail and residential uses are mostly prohibited.

The new Opportunity Areas will allow for the development of employment lands with uses that were previously not allowed. With these changes, there is a tremendous opportunity for businesses and land owners to redevelop or modify current use of their property to make it more efficient (and hopefully earn a higher return on investment). In the Opportunity Areas, the changes will occur as land owners and business owners decide what the highest and best use is for their properties. Unlike the Expansion areas, though, there is no need to wait for the property to be annexed into the City.

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About Author

Will Van Vactor of Van Vactor Law LLC

Will Van Vactor is an Oregon attorney and the founder of Van Vactor Law LLC (www.vanvactorlaw.com). Will’s law practice focuses on land use, real estate, and mediation. You can reach him at will@vanvactorlaw.com and 541-233-8517.

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