News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters to tackle issues of growth

Growth is a six-letter, one-syllable word that can conjure up a multitude of ideas, scenarios, fears, options, and consequences. Growth and its many impacts can give rise to differing opinions and create tension and division in a town like Sisters.

On Thursday, May 12, Citizens4Community and The Nugget Newspaper are cosponsoring a town hall dealing with “Keeping Sisters, Sisters” while dealing with rapid growth and development. Rather than taking diametrically opposed positions, the citizens of Sisters Country have an opportunity to gather for two hours of education and discourse and hopefully come away with a better understanding of growth in our community. The ideal would be to find areas of consensus and collaboration with which to work toward common goals.

To begin a meaningful conversation about growth, an understanding of Oregon land use law is essential. Without those basics, it is too easy to end up going down disparate rabbit holes, the result of which is ultimately frustration and division. Deschutes County Administrator Nick Lelack will provide the necessary overview of those laws.

To understand what it means to “Keep Sisters, Sisters,” knowledge of the town’s history and development is key. Debbie Newport, who grew up in Sisters and still lives here, is the panelist who will describe where Sisters has come from and why we want to maintain its special nature.

City Community Development Director Scott Woodford will explain what was learned from the Visioning process about what the citizens deem as important. He will review the city’s construction history and current building trends, regulated by building codes and City ordinances.

City Manager Cory Misley will explain the City’s long-range plans, the current state of the City, traffic issues, infrastructure, and City service updates.

What is needed to get enhanced health services in Sisters will be addressed by Robin Meter of the St. Charles Health System. He will explore and update possible extended hours, weekend services, and telemedicine.

One of the topics that has been the source of many discussions over the past few years is how to provide affordable housing options in Sisters and within the county. Most locals are very aware of the shortage of affordable housing in Sisters both to own and rent. David Brandt with HousingWorks will explain what is “affordable housing,” and what can be done to make it more available.

The town hall will take place at the Sisters Fire Department community hall on Thursday, May 12. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for coffee and light snacks, with the program running 6 to 8 p.m.

Jim Barnett and Bruce Rognlien of the C4C board and Jim Cornelius, editor in chief of The Nugget Newspaper, are organizing the event. Cornelius will act as moderator for the evening. The panelists will each present their topic and then the floor will be open for questions and discussion.

“I’m a big believer in the value of people getting together and hashing out difficult topics,” said Cornelius. “It is natural to have anxiety about losing the quality of the community.”


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