Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Developer still on hook for roundabout funds

The Bridges' subdivision has done little to mitigate its impact on Bend
When the city of Bend passed its $30 million road bond last year, it was assumed that developer Dennis Pahlisch wouldn't have to pay anything toward the construction of the roundabout at 15th and Reed Market Road.

But, shockingly, the city said yes, Pahlisch still has to pay something.

Pahlisch is building a subdivision called The Bridges, which is located about a mile south of 15th/Reed Market, one of the busiest intersections in Bend.

In 2006, he agreed to pay $675,000 toward the construction of the roundabout that his subdivision would impact in a big way. Of course, he wouldn't have to pay anything until the 101st home was built.

Right now, he's built 79 homes, but wants to plat 47 more homes, which puts him over the 101-home threshold.

Pahlisch assumed that when he helped finance the campaign to pass the bond, he was off the hook for that $675,000.

The city, though, in a rare instance of asking a developer to pay something for the impact his development has on the city's infrastructure, wants Pahlisch to pay about $318,000.

City staff and the developer will bring this proposal to the city council next month.

Pahlisch claims he would rather pay for improvements to the city infrastructure rather than pay lawyers to fight the city. In other words, he likely would have lost in court.

That $318,000 would be paid over the next five to seven years, depending on how many homes get built.

In the agreement, the city must set aside this money for improvements to the 15th Street corridor between Reed Market and Knott Road, which is about a mile south of the Pahlisch subdivision.

Sounds reasonable, except that the city has no plans, and of course no money, to make any improvements to that segment of the road for at least 20 years.

In fact, the city recently chip-sealed the section of 15th from Reed Market to Pahlisch's subdivision even though this section of the road didn't really need it.

This work was completed just before the annual Tour of Homes, which featured homes in The Bridges.

Unfortunately, 15th St., from The Bridges to Knott Road, is crumbling to pieces, but the city can't say when, if ever, they'll repave that section.

A wag suggested that one way to control the speed in this 50 mph zone, which is faster than the Parkway in the center of town, is to let the roadway degrade to the point that it becomes a mile-long speed bump.

The point is that Pahlisch will pay nothing to improve the infrastructure of Bend that is outside his subdivision.

Pahlisch is planning on city residents to pass another road bond in five years that will completely free him of any financial obligation to the city in which he's amassed a fortune.

The Bridges' subdivision is in the southeast area of town where about 2,000 more homes are planned.

The developers, though, have learned their lesson from what happened on Bend's west side when developers there planned the 4,500-home NorthWest Crossing.

A hearings officer rejected the initial plan in west Bend because the roads there couldn't handle all the new traffic. (Naturally, the hearings officer lived on the west side when making that decision.)

The westside developers, though, formed a consortium to pay the upfront costs for a series of roundabouts and the southern-river crossing so that they could build their massive, mixed-use subdivision. Of course, the westside developers were reimbursed their investment with each new house built.

On the southeast side, though, no consortium was formed because developers there did not propose such a single, huge development.

No, they decided to build smaller subdivisions in phases so that a hearings officer couldn't reject their proposals because they were too small to trigger any dire infrastructure warnings.

Meanwhile, the roads in southeast Bend are crumbling to pieces, the sewer system is overflowing in other parts of the city and there is no storm-drainage system to handle the new high-density developments.

City staffers could enact a "public facilities strategy" for southeast Bend, but they are too fearful of developers to ever do such a thing.

So, what will happen is that Bend, which sells itself on its "livability," will become so unlivable that property taxpayers will be forced to pay for huge new sewer and road bonds.

The developers won't have to pay anything.

Afterall, developers don't really care about Bend, but rather how much they can profit from this city.

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