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City Council delays decision on PeaceHealth annexation.

Byline: MATT COOPER The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - Citing the need for more details, the City Council postponed a decision Monday night on whether to support annexing 59 acres of PeaceHealth property next to the health care organization's planned $350 million hospital site.

PeaceHealth will be back before the council next Monday in hopes of getting a thumbs-up on annexation, so it can present a master plan in June for development of the hospital and the rest of the 160-acre parcel near the McKenzie River in Gateway, PeaceHealth spokesman Brian Terrett said.

An agreement between the city and PeaceHealth on who will pay for roads, stormwater and other off-site urban services wasn't ready by Monday's meeting. That was enough for Councilor Fred Simmons to recommend postponing a decision.

"I don't feel the data is complete enough to make that ultimate decision" on whether to support annexing the land into the city, Simmons said. "We need to have all the facts presented to us in a way that's clear and concise."

Councilor Tammy Fitch had earlier recommended voting on the annexation, saying there would still be time later for public testimony and fine-tuning the city's agreement with PeaceHealth. But a council majority decided it was best to wait another week.

PeaceHealth hopes to win council support in time for a June 6 hearing before the Lane County Boundary Commission, the body that will ultimately decide the annexation question.

With the postponement, the council has pushed its decision off to one day before the deadline for submitting annexation requests to be considered at the boundary commission's June 6 hearing.

Some Springfield residents have repeatedly argued that PeaceHealth is moving too fast in light of concerns about the area's close proximity to the flood plain and the absence of development details.

City planner Colin Stephens said the city had revised its deadline to allow PeaceHealth to submit its development plans as late as November. But Terrett said the health organization still hopes to submit the document in June to meet a construction schedule that calls for breaking ground next year and opening in 2006.

Before the council's postponement, several critics said the annexation resolution is inadequate.

Lauri Segel, a member of the land use watchdog group 1000 Friends of Oregon, said the city's staff report fails to address concerns about the accuracy of area flood-plain maps, the provision of urban services and the potential impact of development on the Interstate 5/Belt Line interchange.

Bonnie Ullmann, a member of the Game Farm Neighbors association, said residents want a better understanding of how PeaceHealth plans to address sewage issues and other impacts on neighbors.

At a work session before the hearing, councilors reviewed the city's flood-plain development policy in light of recent testimony that maps provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency may be inaccurate.

Councilor Dave Ralston raised the issue of city liability if flood-plain development applications are approved with prior knowledge that the maps may be wrong. But city attorney Joe Leahy said that even after a development application is approved, the city could take steps to resolve flooding concerns.

"We'd be crazy not to," he added.
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Title Annotation:Springfield: A pact on paying for urban services isn't ready for review.; Government
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 30, 2002
Previous Article:For the Record.
Next Article:Ducks will have to wait for their final decisions.

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