In a breathtaking turnaround from many prior opinions that denied urban growth boundary expansions (think Metro, Woodburn, Newberg, McMinnville, and…), the Oregon Court of Appeals approved the UGB expansion of our client, the City of Scappoose. It is often characterized as a bedroom community in bucolic Columbia County, and city officials have long desired to increase employment opportunities there. In 2011, the city voted to expand its UGB. More than 5 years later, the court finally decided that the city was free to substantially increase the supply of industrial land, and land available for aviation-related uses at and next to their airport, in support of employment goals.
For decades, cities have seen their economic development goals supported by state land use officials, only to watch helplessly when they were later shot down by litigants arguing those plans were much too ambitious. Following some friendly persuasion from Tim Ramis, the Court of Appeals reversed that longstanding pattern and ruled that the Scappoose City Council (when approved by state land use officials) has the legal authority to create a generous land supply to support needed employment growth.
Now the city will get to work implementing the court’s decision and planning infrastructure for the expansion area. The decision will send a slow but firm ripple across Oregon’s glacial system for review and approval of urban growth boundaries, and for the first time in memory, many cities and businesses across the state will sense a glimmer of hope that perhaps the answer might be a yes.
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