The view from above Corvallis, OR. Photo by Paul Woods via Flickr.
Benton County, OR is a mix of great urban places and rural areas, and smart growth strategies are helping to protect both.
That’s according to Benton County Board of Commissioners Chair Annabelle Jaramillo, who has served on the board since 2000. Jaramillo is a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities.
Benton County, in western Oregon’s Willamette Valley, is home to the vibrant university city of Corvallis as well as considerable farmland and preserved open space, and during her time in office Jaramillo has contributed to many aspects of the county’s land use policy that support each.
“Our land use laws have helped both the cities and the countryside retain their character,” Jaramillo says. “Staying true to our values has been really important to our residents.”
Benton’s land use policies encourage infill development and discourage the extension of the existing urban growth boundaries. “If there is going to be extension outside the city limit – we make sure it’s good development,” Jaramillo says.
Jaramillo’s work demonstrates her commitment to Benton’s cities and the countryside. She helped pen the county’s 2002 Sustainability Policy, which encourages county agencies to meet environmental, economic and community needs simultaneously. And she supported the county’s Habitat Conservation Plan passed in Benton County, which preserves sensitive species and habitats. She also supports the county’s plans to restore the Bailey Branch right of way. Jaramillo sees the railway as an opportunity for moving people as well as goods, given the line’s location near the region’s airport and local vineyards. She also would like to explore making the Bailey Branch corridor a recreation space in addition to new development and rail transit.
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