In a busy Jan. 9 meeting that touched on every capital project, the John Day City Council continued to move forward with their strategy for growth. Mayor Ron Lundbom and Councilor Donn Willey were absent.
The council unanimously approved a professional services agreement with Elaine Howard Consulting of Lake Oswego and Tiberius Solutions of Portland to guide the city through all the steps needed to establish a Housing Development District in John Day.
The contract is limited to $35,000 and ends June 30. The city will apply for a $37,800 grant from the state Department of Land Conservation and Development to pay for the services.
The goal is to promote house construction in John Day by providing cash and tax incentives to prospective homebuilders that the city would recoup through the increased tax revenues from the new development.
A timeline provided by City Manager Nick Green calls for preliminary research and public meetings in January, meetings of the new Community Advisory Committee in January and March, a draft urban renewal plan and report completed by April and a meeting to review and adopt the report in June.
“The target is to have the housing district effective by July 1,” Green told the council.
One of the hurdles has been a state law limiting the size of housing renewal districts to no more than 25 percent of a city’s area. Green said getting a waiver to that rule would be too difficult, so the city will go ahead with the 25 percent limit in place.
“It’s not the best solution, but it’s workable,” Green said.
As a result, the boundaries for the district may resemble “doughnut holes and cherry stems,” as the city focuses on the best areas for development, such as places close to city utilities. Some lots at the Strawberry View Estates subdivision east of John Day, which was announced in July 2008 and never materialized, could be considered, Green said.
The city will need to anticipate future development and will take input from the Community Advisory Committee for assistance. Green said the city also needs to provide information about building contractors and community services to newcomers who want to build homes in the John Day area.
The council also unanimously approved a resolution to create the Main Street Revitalization Department within the general fund to handle funds for remodeling the Weaver Building on Main Street and future revitalization projects in downtown John Day.
The city was advised to create the new department so funding could be more easily tracked, Green said. No comments were made during the public hearing held for establishing the department.
According to the supplemental budget changes provided by Green, the department will see $1.5 million in revenues in the current fiscal year from an anticipated grant, debt and rental payments by the commercial businesses in the Weaver Building. Green noted that the grant was renewable.
A project plan for the complete renovation of the Weaver Building will be discussed at the Jan. 23 city council meeting.
The council also unanimously approved a resolution to establish an IT Fund to handle financing for the city’s broadband project. The city has received $1.8 million through House Bill 5006 for the project. There were no comments during the public hearing held for establishing the fund.
Looking ahead, Green will speak at the Oregon State Snowmobile Association Convention at the Grant County Fairgrounds Pavilion on Saturday, Jan. 13. The city will host the League of Oregon Cities Region 8 meeting on Thursday, Jan. 18. The city council meets next Tuesday, Jan. 23, and the Community Advisory Committee’s first meeting will be Monday, Jan. 29.