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Residents offer their ideas for boundary growth

Whether they want to come into the growth area for the water or stay outside its boundary for the open space, county residents are having their say.

The Medford City Council on Thursday heard the first report after three recent public input sessions on candidates for future growth areas outside of Medford.

Medford Senior Planner Mark Gallagher was surprised to hear from as many as 100 people on the topic of the city's urban growth boundary.

In order to accommodate double the current population, or 127,000 people, by 2065, the city would need to add between 3,000 and 5,000 acres within its limits, depending on the building density, said Gallagher.

— Among the vocal neighbors are the Vawter Road Water Users. The group is made up of 19 Jackson County households on Vawter and Dark Hollow roads with inadequate wells ' they'd like access to a nearby 2 million-gallon Medford Water Commission storage tank.

Janell Donalson of Dark Hollow Road is a member of the Vawter Road Water Users group and asked to be included in Medford's urban growth boundary.

The property owners in the vicinity are in desperate need of potable water, since many wells are shallow and do not provide adequate amounts of water, and many have significant water-quality issues, she wrote in a letter submitted to the mayor and council.

But the water conversation opens a can of worms.

That issue of water can get really big, Gallagher told the council Thursday.

Councilman John Michaels said he's wary of the precedent set when lack of water is the only reason to bring a property owner into the UGB.

Mayor Lindsay Berryman agreed.

I don't see our responsibility here providing services outside of the city limits, she said.

Another issue was a 51-acre parcel zoned exclusive farm use on Jacksonville Highway on the west edge of the UGB. Property owner James Perry requested it be included so it could be developed.

Gallagher said the largest group he heard from during the meetings was neighbors opposed to Perry's request.

Neighbors Tim and Carol Struthers of Oak Grove Road have asked the city not to include Perry's land.

In a letter to Gallagher, they wrote that they are concerned that developing what is mostly a field will result in a significant traffic increase.

We appreciate the quaint, country atmosphere and hope to preserve it for our grandchildren, the Strutherses wrote. Please leave us alone.

Gallagher said after the meeting that most of the development tends to go east of Medford, not west, because the west side has better soils for agriculture, so the concerned neighbors may get their wish.

Gallagher told the council that the planning commission is scheduled in its next meeting to reach a recommendation on where it thinks future growth should occur.

The planning commission is scheduled to meet at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday in Room 151 of the Lausmann Annex, 200 S. Ivy St., Medford.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail