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Cornelius tries again for property outside UGB

Metro councilor comes to the aid of city, which was caught between deadlines

Cornelius officials are going to get a second shot at creating a large industrial park on the north side of the city. But the chance to persuade Metro to allow them to develop about 100 acres hasn't come without some political deal-making. Here's a recap:

Cornelius faced a March 15 deadline to file a request to alter its Urban Growth Boundary, the line that determines where development, including industrial expansion, can take place.

But the city couldn't file its proposal because Metro was scheduled to undertake one of its periodic comprehensive reviews of the UGB, and cities aren't allowed to make small changes during big-review years.

State lawmakers, however, made things even more complicated by proposing a law (House Bill 2051), which would postpone Metro's comprehensive UGB review for two years.

The idea is to give Metro time to incorporate reforms stemming from a statewide planning process, a move even Metro officials say is needed.

If the bill, which is gaining support, passes, it would put Cornelius in a bind: since Metro wouldn't be doing a comprehensive review, the city's effort to bring 100 acres inside the UGB could be allowed. But, the March 15 deadline to file the request has already passed.

That quandary prompted Cornelius Mayor Bill Bash and city staffers to make a pilgrimage to Salem to try and persuade legislators to change the law so Cornelius had a shot at a UGB review.

Newly elected Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington, who represents western Washington County, had a better idea: waive the deadline for filing a UGB appeal for Cornelius.

Richard Meyer, head of community development in Cornelius, said Harrington's plan is a win-win: Cornelius gets its shot at more industrial land and Metro gets another ally in support of its bill in Salem.

Metro Attorney Dan Cooper said that now it's up to the Metro council, which will likely take up Harrington's plan later this month, to decide whether to allow Cornelius to propose a small UGB expansion.

'We're really excited about that,' said Meyer. 'It's hurting us that we don't have any room for our existing businesses and some of our potential businesses to expand.'

Meyer said he's working on a proposed expansion that would include about 100 acres already being used for a mix of purposes north of the city limits near Susbauer Road.

Two years ago, the city underwent an extensive process to bring industrial land into the UGB, only to have it fail at the last minute when critics raised concerns about losing farmland.

This time around, city officials are avoiding parcels currently used for crops.

'We agreed that we would come in with something less than 100 acres and that the land that we would expand into would not include the two parcels that are exclusive farm use land,' Meyer said.