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West Linn, Tualatin fight Stafford's 'urban reserve' designation

Battle shifts to state court of appeals


West Linn and Tualatin are continuing their effort to prevent growth in the Stafford triangle. An appeal was filed in the state court of appeals last week on behalf of both cities.

In a multiyear battle to appeal the designation of Stafford as an “urban reserve,” the cities of Tualatin and West Linn were informed Aug. 14 that their appeal to the Land Conservation and Development Commission was rejected. The LCDC reviews decisions made by the regional governing body, Metro, and Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties when they mapped areas for future urban growth.

According to Metro, urban reserves are lands that lie outside of current growth boundaries and are suitable for urban development in the next 40 to 50 years. Typically, the urban reserve designation is the precursor to being included in the urban growth boundary.

The Stafford area is nearly 4,000 acres, and of that, about 1,000 acres is considered developable. The land is a buffer of rolling hills and woodlands between Lake Oswego, West Linn and Tualatin.

Some owners of larger parcels in Stafford would like to sell and develop their properties, as they believe the land is no longer sellable as viable farmland. Stafford Hamlet residents, Clackamas County and Metro held a series of forums starting last fall to discuss potential urban growth in the area.

However, West Linn and Tualatin have long said they do not wish to develop the Stafford area, citing concerns with infrastructure as well as transportation.

The two cities appealed the designation back in July 2010, and it has been in the appeal process ever since. The appeal contested the process in which the designation was made, stating the process communicated by Metro was not followed.

West Linn especially took issue with potential plans for the Borland Road area. Part of Stafford nearest West Linn, the Borland area was called “suitable for intense mixed-use development” in Metro’s plan, while other areas of Stafford “will have little or no development.”

The West Linn City Council called a special meeting Aug. 20 to discuss the LCDC ruling. Unanimously, the council agreed the city should continue its pursuit to appeal the designation to the state court of appeals.

If the state court of appeals upholds the appeal, then Metro and the county could be directed to reset the designation process and start over following the correct processes.

If the appeal is rejected, then West Linn and Tualatin would have the chance to make an argument for the state supreme court to hear the case.

The cities now have 21 days to file their brief, which is due Sept. 25.