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Lack Of Growth Plan Will Cost Oregon's Damascus

The failure of the city of Damascus to finalize a long-term growth plan is going to cost it. That’s the upshot of a meeting Friday in Salem.

Downtown Damascus

Downtown Damascus

Michael Clapp/OPB

The state requires cities to have comprehensive plans within four years. Damascus still doesn’t have one, nine years after incorporation. That failure has led Oregon’s Land Conservation and Development Commission to the very unusual step of withholding some state revenue from Damascus, starting April 1. A hearings officer recommended a financial penalty, but on a longer timeline.

Damascus representatives had asked commissioners to put off enforcement until next January. Damascus voters have to approve a growth plan, and up to three plans could be on the ballot in May. City officials argue that sanctions from the state could fuel a voter backlash.

Commission member Tim Josi expressed mixed feelings about the actions.

“Just doesn’t sit well,” Josi said. “I think that the opponents to moving forward could really capitalize on that.”

In the end, Josi and his fellow commissioners unanimously approved the penalty for Damascus.

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