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City staff, objectors cite progress on UGB

Both sides describe session as productive, but few specifics available to the public

The first mediation session has been held on the city’s proposal to add an additional 260 acres of land to the urban growth boundary (UGB), a milestone that comes after years of battles between the city and the land use advocate groups opposing the plan.

The session was facilitated by conflict resolution firm Oregon Consensus, which is also working with parties in Woodburn to settle a dispute over proposed expansion of that city’s UGB.

Mediation agreements require all parties to sign confidentiality agreements, meaning there is limited information available about the status of the mediation until after the fact. However, parties on opposite sides of the issue have described the first session positively.

“The parties had an initial meeting and progress was made,” said Sid Friedman of Friends of Yamhill County, a land use activist group. “I believe all the participants are hopeful that an appropriate resolution can be reached. For our part, (we) will continue to work in good faith toward that outcome and we believe the city and the other parties will as well.”

City Attorney Truman Stone, representing the city of Newberg at the mediation table, agreed with that assessment.

“The basic update was that we met and it seemed productive,” he said, adding that the budget for the initial contract hiring Oregon Consensus has been spent, so future mediation sessions will require a new contract, which has not been finalized.

The mediation session is the first since the city suggested increasing the UGB more than a decade ago. The city proposes to expand its UGB to include more industrial land. It is the first major expansion since the boundary’s 1981 establishment in Newberg.

The land in question is about 260 acres known as the South Industrial Area, located on Newberg’s south side near Highway 219, Wynooski Road and Wilsonville Road.

City Council made a final decision adopting an amendment to the UGB in May 2013. The Yamhill County Board of Commissioners adopted the amendment in July of that year.

Once approved by both the city and county the amendment went to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). The DLCD received objections from six parties, including land use groups 1,000 Friends of Oregon and Friends of Yamhill County, as well as from private citizen and farmer Grace Schaad and others.

DLCD referred review of the amendment to the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), which began a series of hearings on the issue in early 2014. DLCD, the city and a number of objectors presented their arguments to the commission. In response LCDC gave the city until May to decide whether it would enter into mediation with the objectors.

At the May 5 City Council meeting councilors voted to table a resolution that would have withdrawn the city’s UGB application from the DLCD altogether. They voted instead to direct staff to begin the mediation assessment process.

The preliminary mediation process had been ongoing since then, with Consensus Oregon meeting with parties on both sides of the dispute to identify and define the issues prior to actual mediation beginning. The parties finally met for a first mediation session in February.

The next session has not been scheduled and will likely not be until a decision is made on how to fund more sessions.

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