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UGB expansion opponents file brief in Court of Appeals

Critics of plan to expand Scappoose's UGB file arguments


Michael SheehanOpponents to the expansion of Scappoose’s urban growth boundary repackaged their arguments and submitted an appeals brief to the Oregon Court of Appeals June 15.

Columbia County resident Michael Sheehan wrote the appeals brief and has a history of appealing the UGB expansion decisions ever since 2011 when a majority of Scappoose voters cast ballots in support of the city’s plan. These appeals have been denied in the past.

Sheehan’s appeals brief submission is another step in what has been a long process of appeals, say Scappoose city officials. In a previous interview with the Spotlight, Scappoose City Manager Jon Hanken said he believes the UGB process has been dragged out for a long time, and that the issue illustrates a bigger problem with Oregon’s land-use process.

“This is all packaging now, there’s really nothing new,” said Hanken in regard to the arguments presented in the appeals brief. “It’s pretty safe to say that it will be consistent with previous information.”

The Oregon Legislature on Monday, June 24, gave final approval to two bills that will help cities forecast population and evaluate the need for additional land and development capacity inside urban growth boundaries.

The two bills enacted, HB 2253 and HB 2254, will simplify the process of land-use planning by providing cities with simpler, fact-based methods for compiling data, which has been one of the main issues opponents to Scappoose’s UGB expansion have highlighted.

The base arguments contained within Sheehan’s appeals brief accuse the city of using inaccurate job and population data to validate its growth goals. The appeals brief states that the city failed to use current data to determine 2010 employment levels for Scappoose, forecasted high employment rates based off of short-term economic “boom” years, and assumed the proposed UGB expansion would cause a substantial increase in employment growth beyond historical trends.

Sheehan said when the city brought in consultants to justify the need for the amount of land requested in the UGB expansion to the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission, it seemd unclear who the consultants were being paid by. “It looked like they were being paid by the developers,” he said.

Sheehan added that the land around the airport that is in consideration for inclusion within the UGB is owned by two big developers.

“Why would we want to have two big developers controlling Scappoose’s future?” he asked.

“My position has always been that I’m happy with incremental growth; having a couple businesses come in. It’s a nice semi-rural town and area, we want to keep it that way.”

The city and the LCDC have until mid-August to file a response to Sheehan’s appeals brief.