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The Oregon Court of Appeals denied more than 400 acres to be brought into Woodburn’s urban growth boundary (UGB) Thursday due to inadequate justification of the appeal.

The acreage will be utilized strictly for farmland.

1000 Friends of Oregon, Friends of Marion County, the Marion County Farm Bureau and several local farmers and residents commend the court’s decision of rejecting the UGB expansion of Woodburn, which is stated to be one of Oregon’s best farmlands.

However, the future of more than 500 acres of the original expansion remains undetermined until further notice.

“We hope this means that Woodburn and the state can focus their resources on those areas that are underutilized and underdeveloped within the existing urban growth boundary, including the lands that were brought into the UGB, which are more on the north and eastside of Woodburn,” said Mary Kyle McCurdy, 1000 Friends of Oregon policy director and staff attorney.

The city of Woodburn had few comments.

“After many years and a significant investment of taxpayer dollars, the city is disappointed that the Oregon Court of Appeals was again unable to resolve the issues and affirm the decision of the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) this second time around,” said Scott Derickson, Woodburn’s city administrator.

From the previous appeal in December 2011, the industrial expansion took an excessive amount of prime farmland, according to McCurdy. The current plan also did the same, as the court initially agreed with their declining decision.

“The soils in Marion County and around Woodburn don’t get any better in the world,” said McCurdy. “They’re excellent soils, they’re not replaceable.”

Each city in Oregon is required to develop and modify their UGBs that will accommodate industry and population growth for the subsequent 20 years, according to Oregon law.

Woodburn’s first urban growth expansion plan, which included more than 900 acres of land, started in 2005. More than $1 million has been spent on consultant fees and staff time regarding this case.

Although the LCDC failed to give an explanation for the reasoning of how the expansion is consistent with the law, this isn’t unfamiliar. A similar instance occurred in a revised plan from the state that was appealed by the court in 2011.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment, local jobs, improved streets, public safety resources and an overall improved economic climate for our community continue to be in limbo,” Derickson said.

Agriculture is the number one industry in Marion County and has continued to grow during the recession, while multiple industries declined, according to McCurdy.

McCurdy mentioned she would like to see the city focus on how to invest and revitalize the current downtown and local businesses, including the existing vacant and underutilized lands that are within the city. Derickson said the city’s legal team is currently reviewing the 20-page court ruling. Once the review is complete and the city has consulted with county and state partners, they will brief the city council on ruling and options for moving forward.

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