Sherwood City Council eyes smaller growth ask
Last year, the city sent a letter of intent to the Metro Council, the governing body that determines city and county boundaries in the Portland area, expressing interest in expanding Sherwood's urban growth boundary by about 600 acres. In a Tuesday, March 20 work session, the City Council decided to tentatively move forward with an alternative growth plan, which would grow the city by 373 acres south of the planned new Sherwood High School.
The Council determined that exploring the alternate option, dubbed Alternative A in a presentation by community development director Julia Hajduk, was the best choice after reaching near-unanimous agreement that expanding by 600 acres would be too much growth, and did not have enough community support — particularly in the Sherwood School District.
"We still haven't sold it," Mayor-Elect Keith Mays said about the original plan. "… People in the school district, if you talk to anybody, they're saying 'wait, please wait,' and that's one of our most important partners."
Council Kim Young echoed Mays' point later in the session.
"I have had conversations with School Board members, and they have concerns about the number of students that it would add," she said. "One did mention that they would be more comfortable with a smaller ask."
The city's planning for this expansion stretches back to 2014, when it received funds from Metro to develop a preliminary concept plan for Sherwood West. Metro typically considers growth requests every six years, but recently announced that it also would consider requests mid-cycle, in 2021, for cities with special circumstances.
Mays and other councilors expressed interest in waiting three years, but Hajduk said that there was no guarantee Metro would consider Sherwood's request then.
The original growth plan for Sherwood was based in part on a 2015 Housing Needs Analysis, which predicted that "Sherwood will need Sherwood West to accommodate future growth beyond the existing city limits and Brookman Area" over the next two decades.
Mays and other councilors expressed doubt that Sherwood would actually need more space to accommodate more residents, with Mays saying that projecting growth is "a little bit of a wild-ass guess."
The City Council must adopt the Housing Needs Analysis into the Sherwood Comprehensive Plan before submitting a request to Metro. It plans to do so at its April 17 meeting. The Council will officially determine what request it will submit to Metro, if any, at its May 2 meeting. Request are due by the end of May.
Near the end of the work session, which stretched about 40 minutes beyond its planned end time, city manager Joe Gall made a recommendation to the Council members.
"I think there's some consensus for the smaller alternative," Gall said. "A number of you probably won't vote for that, and I understand that. But if we go down that route to prepare that as the ask, and you engage the public, and you reach out to the School Board … you may get to a point within a month where you don't even take a position, because you have more information that you do tonight. Just because we're looking for some kind of direction, doesn't mean you're going to do that. Because there's unanswered questions."
"I'd like to move forward with that," said Council President Sean Garland. "We can say we'll come back on May 2 with Alternative A, and that would be what we would vote on."
After Metro accepts a request in May, it will officially confirm or deny growth requests by the end of 2018. There is no guarantee that Metro will accept any proposal Sherwood submits.