Gretchen Buehner represents land owner, but didnt disclose fact in city meeting.

Buehner A Tigard city councilor apologized for not disclosing a potential conflict of interest last week, after she argued that a client’s land should likely be included in plans for development by the city.

Council President Gretchen Buehner, a real estate attorney who has served on the council since 2006, represents a property owner along Scholls Ferry Road who wants to be included in the city’s plans for development of River Terrace, a currently undeveloped part of the city that runs along Southwest Roy Rogers Road near Bull Mountain.

Buehner has advocated that her client’s property should be included in the development plans for years, but did not disclose that she represented the client at a Sept. 18 council meeting, when the council was given an update on plans for the area.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Buehner apologized for failing to disclose the conflict, after an article appeared in The Oregonian last week.

“I have spent many years in public service trying to look out for the best for the city of Tigard,” she said. “I have never knowingly not disclosed any interest I might have coming before the council. Quite frankly, it doesn’t happen very often, but I always try to bend over backwards.”

At the Sept. 18 meeting, Buehner said that property owners abutting the River Terrace annexed land should be included in the planning process, but did not say she represented one of those landowners at the meeting.

In her statement on Tuesday, Buehner said her mother had experienced a medical emergency the day of the meeting and that she was “distracted” during the meeting and forgot to disclose her relationship with the client.

“That doesn’t excuse the fact that I didn’t make the disclosure, but it’s what happened,” she said.

During the Sept. 18 meeting, the City Council did not vote or make a decision on plans for the area.

Buehner has represented the client, Marsha Lancaster, for years, since before her election to the City Council. The property abuts the boundary line for River Terrace. In 2010, Buehner testified before the Washington County Planning Commission as her attorney that her client’s land should be included in plans for the area.

The issue has come before the City Council a handful of times for discussion, and Buehner has disclosed the potential conflict in the past.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “I didn’t do it (last) Tuesday night.”

Buehner said she will recuse herself from voting on the community plan when it comes before the council in about 18 months.

“I will not participate in the discussion, and I will not vote, because I feel it is inappropriate because I have a client (in that area),” she said.

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