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All eyes are on Boring village vote

Proponents and opponents of the village quasi-government agree: Tonight's vote is huge for the town.

It all ends - and begins - tonight.

The residents, business owners and property owners of the proposed village of Boring will settle the issue of whether or not to institute the county's new quasi-governance model in the last of three town hall votes from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Boring-Damascus Grange, 27861 S.E. Grange Street.

Voters from approximately 1,250 households and countless non-resident business owners and property owners are eligible take part in the referendum on the proposed bylaws and board members for the county's new village governance model.

Hundreds have turned out to vote thus far, shattering the attendance of the Villages at Mount Hood and the Beavercreek Hamlet. The results should be released sometime tonight, town hall organizers say, and there is no early indication which way the citizens have voted.

Residents will have to bring proof of residency, property ownership or business ownership in order to vote. Those who forget to bring proof will be able to vote using a provisional ballot, which will only be questioned if the vote is close.

The village - a new form of 'quasi-government' under Clackamas County's 'complete communities' ordinance - seeks to give citizens in unincorporated areas (non-cities) greater influence over the decisions that affect their lives.

Wielding greater power and influence than a community planning organization (CPO), the village is able to receive grant money from federal, state, local and private sources as an agency of the county. According to the 'complete communities' Web site, '(h)amlets and villages may assume some local governance functions,' moving beyond the CPO's typical land-use planning function.

The village may enter into (non-binding) intergovernmental agreements and memoranda of understanding with other government agencies, such as cities. Villagers also may propose a 'village tax' to county commissioners, which could be referred to a county ballot.

County commissioners say the village would become the official voice of the citizens in the Boring community.

Tonight's vote will end the voting process, but will begin either a campaign for a hamlet or another quasi-government, or it will begin a concentrated effort by opponents to prove the village is illegal.

A contentious issue

Since March, when commissioners voted to let Boring begin the process of forming a village, residents have turned out in large numbers to several pre-town hall 'organizational' meetings - gatherings intended to set up the bylaws, boundaries and activities of the proposed village.

For the most part, those meetings have been dominated by debate between the pro-village chief petitioners and residents skeptical of the quasi-government.

Village backers say the same 'handful of people' has hampered the organizational meetings by dwelling on the same handful of issues and not moving forward.

Critics of the village agree that many of the same issues have been brought up at the meetings and say that illustrates their point that the citizens have not been adequately informed of the process.

Many rumors have circulated throughout the community, including the untrue allegations that the village would have power to unilaterally impose taxes and that it would have zoning authority. In truth, the village would not be able to change county zoning.

According to the 'complete communities' ordinance, a tax for Boring is possible, but only individual citizens may propose the tax, not the board of directors, and then the citizenry must vote whether or not to refer the tax proposal to county commissioners. The commissioners then have the power to decide whether or not to put the village tax on a ballot. Villagers then make the final decision on a regular (paper) county ballot.

Even after some residents cut through the spin from both sides of the debate and learned what the village could and could not do, they still told village backers they opposed it because they were not adequately informed about the process.

A group of village opponents known as The Concerned Citizens of the Boring CPO have filed a lawsuit against Clackamas County for alleged violations of voting and campaigning rights related to a process that county attorneys have even admitted keeps changing.