Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals recently affirmed the city of Forest Grove’s Feb. 11 vote to annex 109 unincorporated “island” properties that were surrounded by city limits.

The annexation went into effect 30 days after city councilors approved the ordinance. But several property owners appealed that schedule, arguing that the city should have delayed the effective date for three years, as required by state law for property specifically zoned residential.

City officials maintained that the county’s FD-10 designation (Future Development 10 Acre District) is not specifically residential, but rather serves as a “holding zone” for property that is likely to be annexed and rezoned.

LUBA’s June 13 opinion found that the FD-10 zoning is not specifically for residential use. The county code “simply states that the properties in the FD-10 zone are ‘in limited agricultural, forest, or residential use,’” wrote LUBA chairman Michael Holstun in denying the plaintiffs’ first claim.

The property owners also claimed the city violated requirements of the Metro Code and of its own comprehensive-plan transportation goals by failing to annex roads adjacent to the island properties while simultaneously withdrawing the roads from the Washington County Urban Road Maintenance District — leaving residents with no official street-maintenance agency.

In addition to finding the property owners mistaken about the city not annexing the roads, LUBA found “the likelihood that the currently substandard roads will be improved is actually increased by the annexation,” Holstun wrote.

City officials are still talking with Washington County representatives about taking over jurisdiction of the roads, said Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax. “We have a deal in the works but I’m not sure it’s been finalized yet,” he said.

It may be a couple of years before all the roads have been transferred to city responsibility, Truax said, but the process will begin, piecemeal, much sooner than that.

At that point, city officials can begin hunting for money and working with property owners to fund street improvements.

Truax said he wasn’t surprised by LUBA’s affirmation of the city’s decision because the city’s legal team had carefully checked out the laws before giving the annexation the go-ahead.

“They thought we were on solid ground when we took the action in the first place,” he said.

Ben Knaupp, an annexed property owner who also filed and argued the appeal, did not return messages before press time.

Contract Publishing

Go to top