Portland City Council authorizes big expansion plans
Jul 24, 2014 | 301 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Portland City Council authorized Freese and Nichols to begin the annexation process for the area in blue.
The Portland City Council authorized Freese and Nichols to begin the annexation process for the area in blue.
Portland is growing, and city officials are making plans to expand the city’s borders to accommodate that growth.

The City Council authorized Freese and Nichols to move forward with annexation plans Tuesday during a regularly scheduled meeting. City officials authorized the company in August 2013 to conduct a growth management study in preparation for potential annexation of areas outside the city limits, but within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. The completed study identifies specific tracts north and west of Portland for annexation.

Freese and Nichols Planning Director Dan Sefko presented the company’s annexation plan to the Council. It identifies two areas – a 1,845-acre tract on the northwest boundary of the city and a 599-acre tract that runs along the Nueces Bay to the west of the city – for proposed annexation.

“The northern boundary is mostly vacant, though there are some homes in the area,” Sefko said. “This would give room to expand and bring in revenue.”

Sefko said there are 159 residential dwellings within the two tracts.

Councilman John Vilo was concerned about whether people who live within the northwest tract would have to make certain adjustments if annexation there was approved, noting that some raise chickens.

“There’s totally different uses for this property,” Vilo said. “A lot of people moved out there because they didn’t want to live in the city, so I hope we’re able to protect the integrity of those neighbors, whatever we do.”

Sefko said residents living in that area would be able to maintain whatever lifestyles they currently have.

“If you have land use (provisions), you have to allow homes to continue to have that use,” Sefko said. “They are guaranteed by statute to do what they’re doing.”

Mayor pro tem Cathy Skurow said annexation would be beneficial for people living in that area.

“This is about protecting the assets of the citizens out there,” Skurow said. “We are getting people who are interested in developing in that area. So, it’s coming.”

Sefko said a possible disadvantage to people living in the area, should the city opt to not annex it, is the future construction of wind turbines there.

“We have no control of land uses going on there,” Sefko said. “There could be wind turbines put out there. We really can’t manage the way the edges of our city look. That’s the downside.”

Assistant City Manager Brian DeLatte said there are two developers who are currently interested in developing land in the northwest tract.

“It’s great land,” Sefko said. “It’s open; it’s pasture. Someday somebody’s going to want to develop it. Fifty years from now, you will be glad to have it.”

City Manager Randy Wright said the city’s expansion opportunities are limited to the north and west, due to an absence of available land south and east of the city.

“The most logical area for growth to occur is to the west, so the city can protect the assets of the city, and the assets of people who live in those areas,” Wright said. “This will create orderly growth that benefits our citizens and those who live in those areas.”

Councilman Gary Moore asked if other cities could annex the areas if Portland decided not to. Sefko said they could not, because the areas are in Portland’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.

To accommodate a proposed 1,200 additional units being built in the area, Sefko said about $4.4 million would have to be spent in infrastructure costs.

“The annual estimated revenue would be $1.1 million, which assumes an average home value of $150,000,” Sefko said.

The Council voted 6-0 to authorize Freese and Nichols to begin the annexation process on the northwest tract, which will cost $40,000. The company will finalize annexation plans, prepare information packets for affected property owners, post public notices, and conduct two public hearings to complete the process.

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