Central Point moves toward east-side TOD

Planners cite the success of transit-oriented development in the west side of the city

CENTRAL POINT — Planning Commission members unanimously agreed Tuesday that the city should move forward in creating a second transit-oriented development, this time on the east side of the freeway, to guide growth and change for the next half-century.

Creating the TOD will require final approval from the City Council. But city planners say this is a first step toward creating the type of managed growth that's been successful on the west side, near Mae Richardson Elementary School and including the Twin Creeks development.

The west-side TOD spawned several successful mixed-use projects that city officials say helped ensure careful development as urban growth reserves were annexed inside city limits.

TODs, in essence, ensure a stricter development standard while offering flexibility in the ways in which the property can be used.

A east-side TOD would encompass the area north of Pine Street between Bear Creek and Hamrick Road.

Planning Commission members met Tuesday to iron out details and hold a second public hearing.

State transportation planners have voiced concerns about how the east-side TOD might impact the Pine Street interchange. But planning commissioners said a TOD would ensure responsible development and manage traffic flow, especially with the TOD's signature emphasis on public transit.

"Our approval meant that we like the concept," Planning Commission Chairman Chuck Piland said. "This is something that was started by the City Council quite some time ago and they basically said, 'Everybody likes what happened at Twin Creeks,' so we expanded to include portions of the downtown. Now we think we need to do it over on the east side.

"The state has a lot of control over where and how communities are able to grow. The east side of Central Point is basically the only open area we can do any planning for, and most of it is not developed. This plan would say, 'If you're going to become part of the city, tell us what you want to do.'"

Public Works and Parks Manager Matt Samitore said a TOD means a greater variety of development types and higher density residential.

"From the city's perspective, this would be an opportunity to jump-start development in an area of the city that hasn't seen a lot of development since 2007," Samitore said.

"With the TODs, you get a higher density, really well-designed neighborhoods with good landscape and good transportation systems. They're generally very well-designed communities."

Developer Mike Duncan said he favored the idea of planned development in an area of the city that could use a facelift.

"I think it's good any time the city does advanced planning like this in that it kind of designs the city for the future," Duncan said.

"It really gives the people that own property in that area something to look forward to and rely on. It gives them some protection that they don't have with current zoning."

Duncan added, "This will be good for all the players — the property owners, the city and future residents and property owners. I'm grateful the city is thinking ahead and being proactive."

Community Development Director Tom Humphrey said information would be posted on the city's website (www.centralpointoregon.gov) in coming weeks and in the next city newsletter.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. E-mail her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

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