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Talent building boom is just down the road

There are 430 dwellings waiting to be built since a moratorium was lifted after Talent hooked up with Medford Water Commission

Construction may seem slow with just 37 single family residential building permits issued in Talent since a five-year building moratorium was lifted in January.

Eagle Point has issued 138 permits and Phoenix has granted 38 in the same period. All three cities have similar populations.

But more than 430 housing units are waiting in the wings with either the city's approval or pre-application meetings held.

They are building at a pretty fast pace, said real estate agent Jack Latvala of Star Properties.

Formerly a site of bargains, new home prices in Talent are a bit of a shock to some buyers. The town has been a popular relocation site for residents fleeing astronomical home prices in nearby Ashland.

The average sale price of homes in the Phoenix-Talent area was &

36;151,320 through October of this year, according to figures from appraiser Roy Wright. The average price in 2001 was &

36;139,594. New homes now available in Talent start at &

36;170,000 and go to &

36;200,000, said Latvala.

I think people were surprised with the cost of the new homes, said Latvala. I'm already seeing young families priced out of this market, similar to Ashland on a smaller scale. That's disappointing.

Building lot prices helped drive up the cost of new homes, said Latvala. Lots were under &

36;40,000 before the moratorium but now cost &

36;60,000 to &


Talent's population is expected to increase to 10,000 by the year 2010. It was 5,589 in 2000. The town is ready for the increase, said City Planner Kevin Cronin.

If we develop at a little higher density, we have plenty of land, said Cronin. The city doesn't plan to expand its urban growth boundary for at least 20 years.

Talent put a building moratorium in place in February 1997 because the water supply was inadequate. New construction was halted because the city was using more water than allowed by water rights and the water treatment system needed repairs. The moratorium was lifted when the city connected to a Medford Water Commission supply.

Planning approvals this year include a 16-unit townhouse project on Talent Avenue, a 20-unit housing project on Lithia Way, a 10-lot subdivision on Creel Road and a 30-home subdivision at Rapp Road and Talent Avenue.

Approval for a 23-lot subdivision given before the moratorium was renewed. A 20-unit apartment complex on Rapp Road also has been approved. Permits can be obtained after approval.

Pre-application meetings have been held with developers of two other projects that could create up to 336 housing units.

Concerns over a railroad crossing, storm drains and public services will need to be resolved for development of a 26-acres site near the Belmont reservoir. That site could have up to 142 houses.

A mixed-use development on eight acres bordered by Wagner Creek and adjacent to downtown could have as many as 194 units. The site would include commercial properties, townhouses, row houses and cottages.

The development would attract a different market than single-family residences, Cronin said. They are trying to create a very walkable, pedestrian-driven city and keep the small-town character, he said.

Cronin has been surprised by a rush of applications for additions and remodels.

My feeling was that many people were misinterpreting the moratorium. There were certain things you could do, said Cronin.

Another explanation could be the mass of homeowners who refinanced their homes as interest rates plummeted recently, investing some equity in the form of home improvements.

Alpine Way fixup delayed by land-use bureaucracy

TALENT ' Citizens had their say at the City Council meeting Wednesday, but a provision in land-use law has delayed the fate of Alpine Way until early January.

Improvements to Alpine have been under consideration for nearly a year as a requirement to develop the proposed Lithia View subdivision, which has faced other planning delays.

When the council considered a compromise on chip sealing Alpine at its Nov. 20 meeting it asked for more information on a traffic study. An engineer's response became part of the planning record. Those who favor or oppose the road requirements have a right to reply in a public hearing, City Attorney William Mansfield said. A hearing cannot be held until the Jan. 2 council meeting because of notice requirements.

Nearly all of the 30-member audience raised their hands when asked to show support for bringing Alpine Way up to city street standards.

Nine speakers urged improvements to Alpine Way that would go beyond the grading and graveling that developer Gregg Adams offered in his compromise. Adams attended the meeting but left before public testimony began.

Esquel Gomez pours concrete for a foundation in a new housing development in Talent. Since a building moratorium was lifted, new construction is inching up by a few dozen, with several hundren new homes in the works. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli