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Clackamas County land regulations appealed

Tammy Stevens, chairwoman of the Beavercreek Hamlet just south of Oregon City, has appealed Clackamas County’s update of local land-use codes to the state.

While Stevens says that the new ordinances violate state law in various ways, officials maintain that the county has kept in line with statutes since citizens have been actively involved in a five-year process to update inconsistencies throughout the code.

The Land Use Board of Appeals will hear oral arguments from both sides in Salem at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19. LUBA usually makes its decisions in four to six weeks.

In June, Stevens resigned from the position that she’s held for about 10 years on the Planning Commission, the county’s most crucial advisory body, after expressing her disgust with the newly elected county commissioners’ ousting of a Sierra Club director. She remains upset that the county announced its planned code amendments primarily as a “housekeeping audit” and alleges that county officials tried to bury the fact that they planned to also address policy considerations. Without evidence from the county for its stated goal of job creation, Stevens argues, the state should invalidate its new codes.

“The initial changes as presented to the Planning Commission for Business Park, Light Industrial and Rural Industrial zones were extensive, extremely invasive and irreversible,” Stevens said. “A county should not mislead or victimize its citizens.”

In response to her concerns, County Attorney Nate Boderman acknowledged that “current economic concerns from job creation” were the reason that county commissioners chose the industrial provisions to go first in this five-year process.

But Clackamas County Senior Planner Jennifer Hughes noted “there was no promise that this would create jobs” anywhere in the proceedings. Approved rezoning regulations expanded the list of permitted uses in industrial areas so that developers could get the green light on a larger spectrum of projects without special hearings.

“One of the reasons we chose to start with the industrial provisions is because we had a rough patch with the economy, and we wanted to increase certainty for people who were looking to create jobs,” Hughes said. “We thought if we could agree upfront that there were certain uses that were appropriate, that would be easier for developers.”

Stevens argued that the county avoided notifying affected citizens about how the rezoning repealed land-use regulations restricting various hazardous uses in industrial and business-park districts because these uses are regulated in other ways. But county officials disagree with her assessment.

“Our record, I believe, is complete in terms of the various types of notices that we’re required to do,” Hughes said.




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