The plan that will guide Sisters over the next two decades is moving forward.

Following a public hearing on the plan, Council voted unanimously September 8 to approve the Comprehensive Plan Amendment, with changes, to replace the 2005 Sisters Comprehensive Plan with the 2021 update which contains plans for the next 20 years. Staff was directed to make designated changes and bring back the ordinance to Council.

Community Development Director Scott Woodford, Principal Planner Nicole Mardell, Assistant Planner Emme Shoup, and consultant Matt Hastie described in detail the year-long process undertaken to create the update.

Over the course of the last year, the City, with assistance from Angelo Planning Group, Johnson Economics, and NXT Consulting, embarked on a public process to completely update the plan – primarily its goals and policies, which form the bulk of the plan and the factual base required by State law that includes the updated Housing Needs Analysis, Economic Opportunities Analysis, and an Urban Growth Boundary Sufficiency Report.

With outreach into the community — both online due to COVID-19 and in person — and extensive review of the draft goals and policies with two community advisory committees, community engagement was a large part of the

process.

The Comp Plan was last updated in 2005. In the meantime, the city has experienced rapid residential growth and the population has increased from about 1,300 to 3,270 in 2020. Many of the elements in the 2005 plan are now outdated. Although not required of a community our size (under 10,000), a recommendation of the recent Sisters Country Vision process was to update the Comprehensive Plan to better represent the current conditions, to ensure that the community plans for and mitigates the impacts of growth and solicits input from the community on what it desires as the future direction of Sisters.

The overriding concern on most peoples’ minds was how to accommodate growth while preserving the special character of Sisters. This “growth with intention” includes: maintaining quality of life; mitigating the effects of growth; maintaining the unique community character; diversifying housing options; and promoting a diverse

economy.

Whether or not Sisters conducted a Comp Plan update, the City is required by the State to plan for growth and must have a 20-year supply of housing. The updated Comp Plan assures that Sisters has the necessary roadmap to guide our growth for the next 20 years. Not having one would be like running a business without a business plan.

One point that seemed to be the cause of some confusion among citizens has to do with an Urban Growth Boundary Sufficiency Report. The new Comp Plan does not call for amending the UGB at this time. The sufficiency report incorporates information from the Economic Opportunities Analysis, Housing Needs Analysis, and rough analysis of other land needs. Efficiency measures will need to be considered in the Comp Plan but not factored in yet. An actual, detailed UGB expansion analysis will look at alternative potential expansion areas, infrastructure, and other factors, and would happen at a later

time.

Examples of efficiency measures could include such things as increases in the permitted residential density, financial incentives for higher density housing, redevelopment and infill strategies, and rezoning or redesignation of nonresidential land to residential designations, among other possibilities.