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Gold Hill to discuss water needs

GOLD HILL — Council members will discuss future water needs in coming weeks as they begin to consider development of a 29-acre parcel on the north end of town at the site of an old concrete plant.

Public Works Director Royal Gasso said plans for the property are still in the pre-application phase but representatives for the private property owners have been working with city officials and a contract planner for Rogue Valley Council of Governments to determine the best use for the long-vacant site.

In recent months a handful of possible development options have been reviewed, most recently the prospect of 111 homes on the site, plans which Gasso said would take the city's water system from 490 water meters to about 600, "which would have quite an impact."

Another issue that has contributed to site development is the need for access over the railroad tracks.

"The railroad crossing has always been an issue with this piece of property," Gasso said. "They've discussed the possibility of an overpass to allow access to the site."

Local land-use consultant Jim Maize, acting on behalf of two families who own the property, said plans were "very preliminary" and could go any number of ways, including an all-residential approach or mixed use.

"We've met with the city a couple times and each time we've shown a different plan," Maize said. "It's an unusual piece of property to try to plan for. This is a large piece of industrial property the city has struggled with for a number of years in order to develop."

Gasso said the City Council would need to address water needs regardless of how the cement plant site is developed.

Currently the city has about 900,000 gallons in holding capacity and an additional 750,000 would ensure the city could supply water to existing customers and provide for future growth including the 29-acre parcel, said Gasso.

"It's a planning and infrastructure problem. We need to address growth in the city regardless of what happens with the site," he said. "But the city of Gold Hill is also looking carefully at the proposed development and its impact on the water system should it be developed to full capacity."

The City Council meeting set for today has been rescheduled for Dec. 10.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.