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January 22, 2018


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It seems that the City is resigned to pick up the cost of the bridge. The funds would likely come from a "line item" from a future bond. The public, when voting, may not be aware of the specifics.
I found it interesting and telling that Council seemed to be exhausted by the discussion. The members that voted no (that is, they opposed the Motion to establish the Reimbursement District), along with other Councilors, seemed particularly uncomfortable with the obvious unfairness of imparting potential fees to property owners in the "East Sector" that would amount to 1/4 of the amount of those levied against the subject property - even though it was clear that this subgroup would enjoy virtually no benefits from the road construction. Normally, a Councilor would have proposed an "Amendment to the Motion" but it seemed that everyone was just too tired to care.
Also on the evening's agenda was a matter having to do with zone changes to a property on Wallace Road that would have an impact on traffic. A very eloquent Mr. Anderson addressed the matter during the Public Comment portion of the festivities. He asserted that the City had a duty to review whether mitigating actions should be required.
These matters, and others like them, should raise a red flag and stimulate discussion about how the City should now deal with development that places additional loads on the Transportation System.
The City of Salem is now "built out" (a term used by transportation officials to describe a point where little private property is available to expand roadways without prohibitively costly imminent domain actions and/or major expenses for the purchase of increasing valuable properties). In other words, when property is developed in ways that increase traffic, the costs of mitigating the effects have substantially increased.
About twenty five or thirty years ago, the City devised System Development Charges (SDC's) and a portion of these charges levied against developers was to offset future costs for transportation improvements. The amount of the charges was (very) roughly intended to approximate the actual anticipated costs.
Now that the City is "built out", even a very conservative update to these charges would shock those who would have to pay them. Herein lies the problem. Nobody wants the charges to be so excessive that development becomes impractical but somebody has to pay to mitigate the effects on the transportation system.
The future political makeup of the Council may determine just how this problem, which can no longer be ignored, will be dealt with.

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