The Portland metropolitan area is on the threshold of finally implementing urban and rural reserves — those far-reaching reforms initially agreed to in 2010 that will significantly improve our land use system.

More than six years ago, elected leaders in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties and many community and business organizations agreed where growth could and could not occur during the next 50 years. Unfortunately, implementation was held up by appeals, court cases, rulings and remands, resulting in residents, property owners, developers and businesses being left in limbo about the future of land use in the Portland metropolitan area.

The most recent obstacle was the disputed status of four urban reserve areas in the Stafford area of Clackamas County. These reserves have been in question since the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission sent the decisions back to the County and Metro following an Oregon Court of Appeals decision in 2014.

Now, with new leadership in Clackamas County, we are renewing our commitment to finalize these vital reforms by resolving these issues together.

It is important to remember that an urban reserve designation maintains current zoning and protections from development. The designation simply identifies the area as one where local elected leaders would be allowed to expand the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) if there is a need to do so in the future. In some areas, urban development in urban reserve areas may not occur for decades, if ever.

We can assure everyone that growth will only occur at the request of a city, and that we will help our cities do the planning needed to ensure that growth will support good jobs and great neighborhoods for a growing population, while protecting our farms, forests and rural communities.

To that end, we are developing a memorandum of understanding between Metro and Clackamas County to reinforce our pledge that any future urbanization of urban reserve lands will only occur at the request of a city, and that Metro will provide money to cities for the planning needed to ensure growth results in great places.

We are moving quickly and collaboratively to:

-- Work with Stafford area residents, community organizations, property owners, businesses and adjacent cities to address needs and concerns about potential future development; and

-- Support business development and job growth in already developing areas of the county (such as Milwaukie, Gladstone, Oregon City, Wilsonville and Happy Valley).

In addition, Clackamas County will maintain the current designation of rural reserve areas near Wilsonville, Canby and Springwater Road. Those areas will remain rural reserves, as agreed to in 2010, and there will be no additional changes to urban and rural reserves in Clackamas County.

This final resolution will allow the region to know with certainty that, between now and 2060, urban reserves will be the first candidates for UGB expansion and rural reserves will be protected from development.

We are each holding public hearings prior to adopting revised joint findings that address the specific issues raised in the court's review. Questions and comments may be directed as follows:

Metro: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-797-1562;

Clackamas County: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-742-4529.

We are eager to resume working for the benefit of greater Portland.

Jim Bernard is chair of the Clackamas County Commission. Tom Hughes is president of the Metro Council.

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