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Medford UGB expansion gets green light

Medford has the green light to expand its boundaries by 4,046 acres over the next 20 years.

The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development approved the urban growth boundary in May, and a 21-day appeal period that ended June 8 came and went with no objections filed, making the expansion official.

A 20-year effort, the urban growth boundary change will add 1,658 acres of land for residential and employment-related development to the city. Another 1,877 acres will be devoted to parks, and 511 acres comprise land that is already developed or land that is unbuildable.

The last time the city expanded its urban growth boundary was 1992.

The expansion will pave the way for development of sizable tracts of houses around Centennial Golf Club and in southeast Medford, east of North Phoenix Road. It includes Hillcrest Orchards, which has shifted from primarily flatland pear orchards to primarily hillside vineyards. Company officials declined recently to discuss their plans, but filed a document with the city in 2015 indicating they could eventually build nearly 1,000 homes on their land.

By the end of the year, developers should be able to file applications to annex property into the city. While more housing projects will be in the mix, the city also will see almost half the 4,000-plus acres set aside for parks, specifically Chrissy and Prescott, which are city-owned but not inside the city limits.

The city will need to make some changes to its land-use laws and enact a new transportation plan before it can receive applications from developers to go through the annexation process.

Pacific Retirement Services has had plans for years to build up to 1,200 homes in the area of Centennial Golf Club and property to the south of the golf course.

Mail Tribune file photo