BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is not getting a new city. Commissioners unanimously denied a request to incorporate an area east of Bend into the town of Mountain View.
At Wednesday's public hearing, Senior County Planner Nicole Mardell said the petition had the required number of signatures, but the 265-square-mile area may not meet population minimums set by the state, "Staff has concerns with this second requirement, as there was not enough information in the record to confirm that there are 150 people residing in this proposed boundary area." Andrew Aasen, who submitted the proposal, says it does, "I went to every single tax lot in the area and tallied how many people were in the homes. I established over 200."
Aasen asked Commissioners to send the question to voters inside the proposed boundary, which includes Millican, "So, the vision and the purpose of incorporation was brought forward through community participation and the petition was born. Its purpose is to address necessary services and realign the area with its current social and economic trends."
But there was overwhelming opposition to the plan at the public hearing, including from county staff and several local and state agencies. Jon Jinings, from the Department of Land Conservation and Development, testified on the difficulty in creating an urban growth boundary and other zoning rules in such a remote area, "There’s immense, possibly overwhelming, challenges to standing up a city like this - to standing up a town out of virtually nothing. We’re really doubtful that it gets them what they want in the first place."
Maryanne Terry lives in the area and initially thought the proposed city could help ease Bend’s overcrowding, "When we got the idea from the letter about Mountain View, we thought, ‘great! This will help Bend’s whole infrastructure because it is just a city to go to.’" But, she admitted there were a lot of unanswered questions, and she was concerned about the proposed city's size. At 265 square miles, Mountain View would be bigger than Portland. Aasen argued the boundary was based on historic grazing lands used by George Millican, and said the area needed to be large to meet population requirements.
Darryl Barnes also lives in the area and told Commissioners, "It seems like pie in the sky to even do a city out there, given the problems with infrastructure, water, services, all of that." He added, "I think a lot of these people in favor of this proposal are disgruntled property owners because they didn’t do their due diligence to find out what they could do with their property and the zoning."
Commissioners suggested taxes collected from such a small group of people would not be enough to support necessary city services and, because 75% of the area is federal land, much of it cannot be developed. After hearing complaints about a lack of fire services in the area, Commissioners encouraged the community to pursue joining a rural fire protection district instead of creating a city, which is a much more expensive endeavor.