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Window for appeals passed, with no takers



CITY OF WOODBURN - The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development has approved Woodburn's Urban Growth Boundary amendment, ending a near 20-year land use dispute over the expansion of Woodburn's city limits. After well over a decade of work, and an estimated $1 million or more in public funds and staff time expended, the city of Woodburn’s urban growth boundary (UGB) saga is finally coming to a close.

On Dec. 14, the city and county jointly approved a remanded and amended version of the Woodburn UGB, which includes 190 acres of industrially zoned land, 406 acres residential, 23 acres commercial and 230 designated urban reserves.

The 21-day window for appealing that decision to the state Land Conservation and Development Commission passed Thursday, with no takers. That cleared the way for the case to be approved by a director’s order, which came Monday morning, according to a release from the city the following day.

“Once that approval order goes out, it will be our final action, and the city will have an approved UGB expansion,” said Angela Lazarean, Mid-Willamette Valley regional representative for the Department of Land Conservation and Development.

The lack of contention represents a dramatic shift from what has characterized the case since the city approved the original version of its UGB expansion in 2005.

The proposal was appealed repeatedly at the city, county and state levels, with so much ink spilled that by the time of last month’s hearing, the full case file reportedly contained over 10,000 pages.

It was challenged to the courts twice, where it ultimately stalled. However, such an outcome does not appear possible this time around.

“It is our understanding that the case is closed at this point and no one else can appeal,” Lazarean said.

The major shift followed closed-door mediation in early 2015 between representatives of the city, the opponents of record in the case (the land-use advocacy group 1000 Friends of Oregon) and other parties.

A framework agreement arose out of two mediation sessions that featured a smaller, but still significant, UGB proposal, and one which kept the majority of the city’s desired industrial land intact.

1000 Friends and its staff were involved in the drafting of new findings of fact in support of the mediated proposal, and its policy director, Mary Kyle McCurdy, spoke in favor of the proposal at the joint hearing.

One impact of the UGB approval that might be seen relatively quickly concerns the 107-acre parcel known as the “Opus property,” located adjacent to the Woodburn Winco Foods Distribution Center and just north of Interstate 5.

An option on the land is held by Specht Properties Inc., a major real estate development and property management firm based in Beaverton.

Mayor Kathy Figley has said attorneys for Specht have been in contact with the city and have been following the progress of the remanded UGB proposal, and its CEO, Gregory Specht, submitted a letter in support of the expansion last month.

A page on Specht’s website discussing the property describes itself as owner and developer of the land and says its development could begin as early as this year.

A copy of the newly approved boundaries for the city of Woodburn's UGB can be found here.

Tyler Francke covers all things Woodburn. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1195.

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