The likelihood that Hillcrest Orchard will one day give way to houses should not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched the Medford area's growth over the past 30 or 40 years. It's certainly not a surprise to the planners and citizen volunteers who have been working on the Regional Problem Solving process for the past decade.

The likelihood that Hillcrest Orchard will one day give way to houses should not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched the Medford area's growth over the past 30 or 40 years. It's certainly not a surprise to the planners and citizen volunteers who have been working on the Regional Problem Solving process for the past decade.

The orchard and vineyard property — and the land surrounding Centennial Golf Course — were in the news this week because they are the most visible manifestations of a long-range land-use planning effort that is finally nearing completion. But their inclusion in the RPS plan is not new.

Medford officials will hold one more public hearing on the plan next month. They should approve it.

The RPS process is intended to lay out where urban growth will take place over the next half-century and, just as importantly, where it will not. Rogue Valley cities all have had the opportunity to participate in 10 years of meetings and hearings, together with county officials.

Medford will grow in population in the next 50 years. That is a given.

The RPS plan lays out a framework for where cities will expand their boundaries to make room for that growth.

Hillcrest Orchards is outside Medford's city limits now, but it is nearly surrounded by housing. In the next 50 years it is reasonable to expect that it will become part of the city, and the RPS documents anticipate that.

Land to the west of Medford is designated to remain in agricultural use under the plan because it is some of the best farmland in the valley and because the RPS framework attempts to preserve buffer zones separating cities and towns. No one wants to see a continuous city stretching from Central Point to Ashland and Medford to Jacksonville — but without a plan to prevent that, it could happen.

The RPS process was never destined to make everyone happy, and it will be easy to criticize this or that detail. But it is an enormous achievement that the plan is nearly complete. No other part of the state was able to complete an RPS plan.

The Rogue Valley will continue to grow because it is a great place to live. Valley-wide planning efforts such as RPS can help make sure it stays that way.