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Report: Former Cornelius Mayor violated city charter, Metro leaves Forest Grove, Cornelius out of UGB expansion

Report: Former Cornelius Mayor violated city charter

According to an independent investigation, former Cornelius Mayor Neal Knight violated the city charter when he directed Richard Meyer, city development and operations manager, to sign an agreement stating he wouldn't seek an expansion of the regional UGB north of Cornelius that included residential properties along Hobbs Road.

Aaron T. Olson, an investigator with the Local Government Personnel Institute, submitted the findings of a two-month long examination of citizen complaints against Knight Oct. 11. City recorder Debby Roth released the report Monday.

Olson's investigation identified 12 separate actions by Knight that citizens had singled out as potential charter violations. Of those, only 4 were violations of the charter, according to Olson. All of those actions stemmed from an incident where Knight, who was removed from office in a September recall election, entered into an agreement with residents along Hobbs Road, north of the city limits, to keep their property out of any future growth plan from the city. Knight also had Meyer sign an agreement.

The actions, which Knight seems to have embarked on alone, were contrary to previous city council direction on UGB and urban reserve efforts, which targeted the area north of town for a proposed industrial area.

It's unclear what, if anything, the city council could do about the report now that Knight is no longer on the city council.

Metro leaves Forest Grove, Cornelius out of UGB expansion

The Metro council unanimously adopted a 1,985-acre expansion of the region's Urban Growth Boundary last Thursday.

The move, which will open the door for further residential and industrial expansion in Hillsboro and more growth near Beaverton and Tigard, came after years of contentious political wrangling over which lands should be designated urban and rural reserves.

But a number of people testified Thursday urging the council to expand the UGB near Cornelius, Forest Grove, and Wilsonville.

'I don't remember a hearing like this one, where the overwhelming majority of people who testified said we should be making a bigger expansion,' said Metro Council President Tom Hughes. 'In some respects, that is a statement that we have exercised a lot of caution in terms of how much we've expanded the UGB.'

But that conservatism didn't sit well with some advocates for growth in Washington County, including Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax, who urged the council to expand the UGB near Forest Grove and Westside Economic Alliance director Jonathan Schlueter, who said there wasn't enough land for new growth, particularly industrial development, in the proposal.

'Your projected increase of 330 acres (for employment land) is below your own projections,' he said. 'You're not even meeting your own standards.'