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Metro Council moves ahead with plan for Stafford reserve

Approval on Feb. 4 would open 6,230 acres near WL to future development

The Metro Council moved one step closer last week to reaffirming its 2011 decision to designate Stafford for future development. The move would classify 6,230 acres between Lake Oswego, West Linn and Tualatin as urban reserves, making those lands open to development in the next 50 years.

The seven-member council approved a first reading of an ordinance Jan. 14 that adds 17 pages of legal findings to support its earlier designation for Stafford as an urban reserve. Final adoption is scheduled for Feb. 4, after the public record closes at 5 p.m. on Jan. 22.

Unlike two previous public hearings conducted by Metro last year, comment was minimal at last Thursday’s hearing.

Carol Chesarek of Portland said it’s time for the council to resolve the dispute.

“I have been involved in the reserves process before there was a reserves process” that state lawmakers set up for the Portland area in 2007, she said. “I am pleased to see there is continued forward motion. What came before this process was not working.”

The findings are required under a February 2014 decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals, which returned the issue of urban and rural reserves to the state Land Conservation and Development Commission, Metro and three counties for additional evidence to justify specific areas.

Since then, Oregon lawmakers intervened to settle Washington County’s reserves, and Multnomah County commissioners are engaged in a separate process to resolve legal findings for a single rural-reserve designation. But Stafford remains a sticking point between Metro, Clackamas County and several cities.

Clackamas County, whose board expanded from three to five commissioners in 2012, says it will not act on its own to designate Stafford as an urban reserve until the county completes consideration of other lands for potential development. The commissioners have yet to decide on the scope and cost of the study, which is projected to extend into 2017.

Stafford constitutes about a quarter of the 28,256 acres that Metro has designated in the region as urban reserves and open for development through 2060.

The cities of Tualatin and West Linn were among the 22 entities and individuals that went to the Court of Appeals to overturn the 2011 decision on urban and rural reserves by Metro and the counties. They have continued to argue that Metro must show financing for the extension of road networks and other public improvements necessary for development of Stafford, which includes steep terrain and floodplains.

Jeff Condit, a Portland lawyer who represents those cities, requested more time to submit materials to rebut Metro’s findings. Metro’s latest draft findings say that question is better answered when the largely undeveloped Stafford area is considered for inclusion in the Portland regional urban growth boundary.

The council decided last year against any expansion of that boundary, but says the issue could be reopened in 2018, ahead of the usual cycle in 2021.

“The Metro Council disagrees with the cities’ position that in order to be designated as an urban reserve, funding sources must be identified for all future infrastructure needs and improvements necessary for the urbanization of Stafford,” the document says.

It concludes: “Stafford is one of the most obvious candidates for an urban reserve designation in the entire region.”

Contact Peter Wong at 503- 580-0266 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..