Tentative agreement reached in city UGB case
After two days of mediation, a tentative settlement agreement has been announced in the city of Woodburns long-running urban growth boundary (UGB) expansion case.
The proposed settlement represents an overall reduction in the size of the UGB, removing 230 acres southwest of the city that had been tabbed for industrial use and 135 acres designated for low-density residential housing.
The industrial land, located east of Butteville Road and primarily south of Parr Road, would be classified as urban reserves, making it statutorily the highest-priority land for development and, therefore, easier to include in future UGB expansions.
The residential land, however, would simply be removed from the UGB, with no such designation.
The settlement also includes the addition of two expansion boundary lines, limiting future expansion in those directions for a period of 20 years. These would be located on Butteville Road north of Interstate 5, limiting growth farther west, and on Highway 99E north of MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, limiting growth to the northeast.
According to a proposed timeline submitted and agreed to by the parties, this condition would involve the city entering into an intergovernmental agreement with Marion County, acknowledging no UGB expansion in those areas for the next two decades.
The mediation in the case was held over two days, March 30 and April 14. The agreement, described as a framework settlement, was announced Friday.
Those involved in the mediation included representatives of the city, the county, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Marion County Farm Bureau, Friends of Marion County, Kathleen Carl and Diane Mikkelson.
The agreement represents a major accomplishment in a process that has left city councilors and Mayor Kathy Figley increasingly frustrated in the past year, one that appeared to have stalled out in May 2014, when the state Supreme Court declined to review a lower courts ruling against the city.
However, Woodburn Communications Coordinator Jason Horton was restrained in his brief comments last week, pointing out that there is still a long road ahead.
Any time you can reach an agreement with a party youve been in dispute with, its a positive thing, Horton said. I think this is a positive for all involved. But this is far from completed. This is just the first step, with many more to come.
The parties agreed to a joint statement last week, including the release of the terms of the proposed settlement, a concept map and timeline, but beyond that, Horton said they were still bound by the confidentiality agreement signed at the onset of mediation.
Last week, representatives of 1000 Friends and Friends of Marion County did decline to comment further.
Supporters of the original proposal appeared to emerge with the upper hand on the one issue expected to be the biggest sticking point in the negotiations: the Opus property, a 130-acre parcel located east of Butteville Road and northwest of I-5.
Initially tabbed for industrial use, the parcel is held by Specht Properties Inc., a Beaverton-based commercial real estate development and property management firm that has handled a number of large, multi-million-dollar industrial projects in the Portland metro area, according to its website.
Friends had opposed the propertys inclusion on the grounds that it contained some of the states most valuable farmland.
But under the proposed settlement, the Opus property would be included in the UGB and zoned for industrial use.
The residential land that would be excluded under the proposed settlement includes 121 acres south of Crosby Road and 14 acres east of Highway 99E. The latter has already been developed as a mobile home park.
The former consists of four parcels that are undeveloped and currently being farmed. The land is owned by longtime area residents Bob and Jean Fessler, founders of Woodburn Nursery & Azaleas, and their family.
Reached last week, their son, Tom Fessler, said he and his family were disappointed that their land would be removed from the UGB proposal.
It had been included and designated for residential development from the beginning of the process over a decade ago, he said.
His family was not a party in the mediation.
We didnt really have a say in it, he said. I dont really know what to say other than that were not happy with the end result.
He declined to comment on whether his family would attempt to challenge the agreement, saying they hadnt really discussed it yet.
The framework agreement is intended to establish a process for moving forward, with final review by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC).
The process begins with the approval of the agreement by the city council, which was scheduled to occur during a special meeting Monday night, followed by approval by the Marion County Board of Commissioners.
After that, the city and county will ask the LCDC to remand the Woodburn UGB proposal for amendments.
Once the remand order is issued, the city and the various parties will spend several months drafting findings in support of the agreement, including the location of the UGB, the designation of the urban reserve area and the establishment of the 20-year expansion limitation.
The findings will be tied to and supported by factual evidence in the record and will demonstrate compliance with applicable goals, statutes and rules, and the city and county comprehensive plans, the timeline reads in part.
On approximately Aug. 1, the city would enter into the aforementioned intergovernmental agreement for UGB management with Marion County.
The city and county would then update their comprehensive plans to reflect the agreement and new findings.
Finally, around mid-October, the city and county would submit the amended UGB proposal to the state Department of Land Conservation and Development for review.
The timeline indicates that the LCDCs decision concerning the amended UGB proposal would take at least 30 days.
To see the full framework agreement and associated information, visit the city's website.