Survey Industrial Lands

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), February 21, 2004 | Go to article overview

Survey Industrial Lands


Byline: The Register-Guard

The director of Lane County's primary business recruitment agency says there's not enough industrial land in Lane County, and he wants local governments to bankroll a study to prove his point.

An updated formal inventory of industrial, as well as commercial, lands is a good idea. More than a decade has passed since Eugene and Springfield completed their last formal study, which concluded that the two cities had, at the minimum, a 20-year supply of industrial land.

However, it's disconcerting to hear Jack Roberts, executive director of the Lane Metro Partnership, declare in advance that he's confident that a new survey will show a severe shortage of "shovel-ready" sites for businesses seeking to start up or relocate.

That assumption is questioned by many property owners, land-use advocates and elected officials. Unlike Roberts, they believe there already is an adequate supply of available industrial sites, including many served with roads and utilities. Nor do they believe is there a need, as Roberts and others have suggested, to expand urban growth boundaries to create more industrial sites.

Such a disparity of opinion itself makes a strong case for a new inventory. Before agreeing to participate, however, local governments must make certain that any study conducted is thorough, independent and based on broadly accepted criteria (for example, there are widely differing opinions on what qualifies an industrial site as "shovel ready").

No one would argue that the supply of available industrial land hasn't diminished since the last survey was completed, although there's little agreement about how much remains and its market appeal. Some sites, both large and small, have been developed, while many others have been converted to diverse uses ranging from retail and office use to sewage-sludge disposal.

Roberts' efforts to promote a new survey received a boost recently when a state task force concluded that Oregon's four largest urban areas, including Eugene-Springfield, lack adequate supplies of "project-ready" industrial land. The panel called for updated inventories to help pinpoint shortages.

However, the task force's report was disappointingly short on detail and analysis. …

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