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Stafford House bill likely to die, lobbyist says

HB 3211 would designate all of Stafford as 'urban reserve' land


TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Since HB 3211 was introduced in February, West Linn and a number of other neighboring cities have spoken out against the bill. Now, the bill is unlikely to move forward according to West Linn lobbyist David Barenberg.A State Legislature bill that would designate the entire Stafford area as “urban reserve” land is losing momentum and unlikely to move forward, West Linn lobbyist David Barenberg announced to the West Linn City Council on Monday.

House Bill 3211 was introduced Feb. 27 by Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville). If passed, the bill would reinstate Metro’s original urban reserve designation that was made back in 2010, and thus end a remand process that was mandated in a 2014 ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

At the first public hearing for the bill on March 19, both Lake Oswego and Tualatin submitted signed testimony opposing HB 3211. For the second public hearing March 24, West Linn joined its neighbor cities in speaking out against the bill.

Metro also came out against HB 3211. The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, on the other hand, said it “supports the concept of HB 3211,” and both the Stafford Land Owners Association and the Clackamas County Business Alliance also favored the bill.

In the weeks since that hearing, representatives from West Linn, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Wilsonville and Metro met with Davis and other House representatives to further discuss the bill.

“The bill is, from that discussion, not going to move forward,” Barenberg said. “The next step is local governments getting together with Metro and talking with the cities on the process moving forward.”

Barenberg said that it became apparent to House representatives that there was a “clear distinction” between the Stafford issue and the Washington County “grand bargain” that was struck at the 2014 Legislature.

“From the legislative perspective (in Washington County), they were able to have all of the parties in agreement and have unanimous votes,” Barenberg said. “They saw that that clearly wasn’t the case here.” According to Metro, urban reserves are lands that lie outside of current growth boundaries and are suitable for urban development in the next 40 to 50 years. Typically, the urban reserve designation is the precursor to being included in the urban growth boundary.

The Stafford area is nearly 4,000 acres, and of that, about 1,000 acres is considered developable. The land is a buffer of rolling hills and woodlands between Lake Oswego, West Linn and Tualatin.

West Linn and Tualatin have long said they do not wish to develop the Stafford area, citing concerns with infrastructure as well as transportation. In a vote held in Oct. 2014, 85 percent of Stafford Hamlet residents favored a solution that would allow the area around Borland road to be developed as urban reserve, with the rest of Stafford falling under an “undesignated” category that falls outside the urban growth boundary.

Moving forward, West Linn is working to schedule a discussion with representatives from Lake Oswego and Tualatin about how to proceed with the Stafford area, and the city will also meet with Clackamas County for a “facilitated discussion” at a later date.

“I’m glad we have consensus around the table,” City Council President Thomas Frank said. “So let’s get together and talk about it. If we don’t, Salem will.”

Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or pmalee@westlinntidings.com.

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