Land use — 260-acre expansion approved by Board of Commissioners; opponents remain resolute

The Yamhill County Board of Commissioners approved the city of Newberg’s request to include an additional 260 acres in its urban growth boundary (UGB) during a meeting last week.

The measure was approved 2-0, after little discussion, by commissioners Kathy George and Allen Springer. Commissioner Mary Stern, who had expressed reservations about the proposal when it last came before them June 27, was absent at the most recent hearing.

Despite her reticence, Stern had ultimately sided with George in tentatively approving the expansion June 27, though, because Springer had been absent that day, the board voted to table the matter until he could have the opportunity to vote. The hearing had been originally been scheduled for July 11, but it was announced that morning that it would be postponed until July 18.

The city has long worked toward adding the 132 gross buildable acres south of Newberg into its UGB, with staff defending the proposal on the grounds that it will stimulate economic development and create jobs.

Both sides agree that Newberg has fewer industrial parcels on hand than it needs, but opponents of the measure — which include the land-use activist group 1000 Friends of Oregon and Friends of Yamhill County as well as several local residents — say the proposed expansion outpaces the need and ignores viable sites already within city limits or in the existing UGB. They also oppose the plan for its inclusion of two large parcels of high-quality farm land.

Sid Friedman, spokesman for Friends of Yamhill County, remained critical of the city’s decision to push forward with the expansion, and in a statement that followed commissioners’ July 18 decision, he indicated that his group and 1000 Friends are not giving up their fight.

“Newberg had better choices that would cost taxpayers less, produce jobs sooner and protect the economic contributions of some of the area’s best farm land,” Friedman said. “Although we are disappointed that the city has continued to pursue this over-reaching expansion, we are confident that a better outcome will eventually be reached.”

Last week’s approval of the city’s request began a 21-day window in which anyone who testified at the local level may file an objection with the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Land Conservation and Development Commission. The state-level commission is the final reviewing body that will weigh in on the case before the matter can be taken to court.

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