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COOS BAY — The Coos Bay Planning Commission met Wednesday evening to discuss and decide whether the purposed amendment to increase the maximum indebtedness of Coos Bay's Urban Renewal District in Empire fits the city’s comprehensive plan.

After a presentation from the city’s Urban Renewal Consultant, Elaine Howard Consulting, the commission unanimously agreed that the amendment did in fact meet the requirements of the city’s comprehensive plan. The commission also chose to recommend that Coos Bay City Council adopt the URA amendment.

“What people really need to understand is that they’re not being taxed more money for this Urban Renewal District, because I think that’s the largest concern. All urban renewal does is take a portion of the tax you already pay and it goes into urban renewal in your city,” Coos Bay Planning Commission member Chris Hood said.  

It is the hope of the URA to amend the URA plan to increase the maximum indebtedness from $12,550,011 to $18,890,011, an increase of $6,340,000, so that the district may add roadwork to the URA plan.

Maximum indebtedness is a limit of spending on projects, programs and administration in a URA. An increase in the spending limit would allow for additional funding to be allocated to the reconstruction of streets within the area.

At Wednesday’s meeting there was time allotted for public commenters, but no one from the public stood up to speak for or against the amendment.  

Before the amendment can be approved, it must be presented for public input, a finding of conformance to the comprehensive plan by the Planning Commission, a briefing to Coos County, and a public hearing in front of the city council that is announced to all citizens of Coos Bay. The city hopes to have the amendment passed by mid-October.

This increase would lengthen the estimated timeframe of the district to the fiscal year end of 2031, an additional six years.

The primary focus of raising the indebtedness is to work on roads. Roads in Empire that the URA has scheduled to update should the amendment pass include parts of Newmark Avenue, Michigan Avenue, Mill Street, Marple Street, Wall Street, Wasson Street, Cammann Street, Main Street, Schoneman Street and Norman Street.

A hearing was held at the Dolphin Playhouse last month to notify the public. Many of the folks who attended were members of the Empire Community Coalition, and were generally interested in the amendment.

The next public hearing involved with the amendment will take place on Oct. 2 at Coos Bay City Hall. That hearing will be in front of the city council.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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