JEFFERSON — The Jefferson Planning Commission unanimously voted to table deliberations on a proposed 15-acre annexation to its July 7 meeting in order to gather more information on how an estimated 60 new houses would impact public safety, infrastructure and local schools.
Commissioners also indicated they wanted to reopen a public hearing on the matter.
Chairman Ronald Gilles expected there would be a vote on the matter, as the City Council also will have to make a decision on the annexation before a mid-August 120-day deadline.
The meeting packed City Hall, which has about 30 seats, with roughly 70 people, some of whom stood partially outside or in an entryway.
Gilles quickly notified attendees that he didn’t want to discuss the recently passed Senate Bill 1573 during the public hearing — which eliminated the ability of 35 Oregon cities, including Jefferson, to vote on annexations.
The proposed annexation site, owned by Joan and Ellis Hamby, sits southeast of the city and was viewed as land for future residential development when the city’s comprehensive plan was created in 1979, said city planner Lissa Davis.
She added that the proposal meets the city’s annexation criteria.
Joan Hamby said her husband was responsible for much of the development in Jefferson, and that she didn’t want to build on the land until she could no longer live in her house there.
Supporters of the annexation said that it would eventually provide additional homes in Jefferson, which in turn would increase the tax base and draw more businesses to town.
“Bringing people into the community is going to help our community thrive,” said Anne Plagmann.
While four people spoke in favor of the annexation, roughly 10 testified in opposition.
They worried about the impacts on Jefferson’s small-town feel and said public safety agencies couldn’t handle the new population, traffic would increase and schools were already overcrowded.
“I work at the elementary school. We are overcrowded. … It’s sad. Kids are not learning,” said Cyndie Hightower.
“We can say goodbye to our quiet, peaceful neighborhoods,” said Stan Neal, who lives near the annexation site.
Charles Goodnight said he moved to Jefferson from California 12 years ago to avoid sprawl.
“If you want to keep this a rural community, you will stop this from happening,” he said.