A new Academy Sports & Outdoors store opening up in Portland Friday is just the latest example of the city’s growth, but that growth could be threatened in the future.
On Thursday, 3News got a sneak peek at the 58,000 square foot store before its soft opening Friday morning, which will be followed by a grand opening celebration on Saturday. The store will employ 150 people, mostly locals.
Portland has been growing for years, at a steady pace. However, residents there have varying opinions of the city’s growth, and whether or not they want it to continue.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Portland resident Amy Atkinson said. “It’s brought in a lot of new businesses. A lot of new families. The school district is growing, and I think it’s good for Portland.”
“I don’t really mind it, you know. I don’t mind getting Academy, and getting a few other stores, but I don’t want it to get too big like Corpus,” Portland resident Nicholas Bivens said. “It’d be nice if it stayed kind of small. It’s nice when it’s small.”
“Yes, I do like it. It gives you more options,” Portland resident Dora Caruso said. “I like it where it is. I want it to stay a small town, but still have the conveniences.”
City officials said Portland has consistently grown at about 1.5-percent for the past 10-15 years, adding that they have done that by encouraging single-family home development, which they call a key to their success. The City has focused on creating neighborhoods and a family atmosphere, which in turn has brought in commercial and retail activity like restaurants and outlet stores.
However, they said that being so close to the wind turbines in nearby Taft will be the city’s biggest challenge for further growth.
“What we understand from talking to developers is that they are reluctant to build single-family subdivisions, you know, in the shadow of wind turbines,” Portland City Manager Randy Wright said. “So how close is too close? That’s the question that we’re trying to understand.”
“You know, there’s talk about expanding that, but it’s all going to depend on what the federal government does to subsidize them things, you know?” Portland Mayor David Krebs said. “It costs probably two to three million dollars for each one of them towers to go up and get them in operation, and the biggest majority of it is subsidized by the government. It depends what they do.”
City officials are trying to figure out what action they can take to stop what they call encroachment. That includes trying to determine what areas might be appropriate for annexation, incorporating some of those areas into the City and then creating an ordinance that would prevent more wind turbines from being built in those areas.
The mayor said it would be April or May before they could get an ordinance like that on the books and in effect. The city’s growth lies to the west, and that’s where the wind turbines are.
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