Student project gives city added planning flexibility

While the state hasn't yet given final approval for an urban and rural reserve plan in Washington County, a student project based out of Portland State University is giving the city of Forest Grove a chance at looking into the crystal ball on the cheap.

Make that free.

Six graduate students in PSU's Urban and Regional Planning program have partnered with the city to help develop a working framework for how development should occur in the urban reserve if any of its land is brought into the city limits.

That wouldn't happen unless Metro voted at some point down the line to expand the region's Urban Growth Boundary to include the land. That's very unlikely to happen this year, since the land is largely oriented toward residential development and the regional government has determined there's enough land for houses in the UGB currently to meet state law.

But this Saturday, the students with Vista Planning will guide a conversation on what could be when they hold a workshop at Forest Grove's Community Auditorium.

Doors open for the meeting at 8:30 a.m. and will run until noon, with light refreshments provided.

'The community workshop is one of a series of public involvement events meant to gather community input and capture community values and vision, which will then be used to inform criteria for developing and recommending alternatives that form the concept plan,' wrote Misty Schymtzik in a Vista Planning press release.

Late last year, the state Land Conservation and Development Commission remanded the Washington County portion of a regional plan for urban and rural reserves.

While LCDC remanded one Forest Grove urban reserve proposal, which lies to the east of the David Hill reserve, it gave tacit approval of the David Hill reserve, which has drawn little controversy.

Unless the regional governments can't get a reserves plan approved by the state, the David Hill reserve should stand as a planning area.

The David Hill Urban Reserve consists of approximately 317 acres, in the foothills of David Hill, at the northwest corner of Forest Grove and extends along the northwestern edge of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) northeast and southwest of David Hill Road. The northeastern edge of this area extends to Thatcher Road and the southwestern boundary extends to Gales Creek Road.

By partnering with the PSU students, the city gains extra planning muscle to apply to a complex issue far on the horizon.

That's a boon for city staff and residents, said Dan Riordan, senior Forest Grove planner.

'They're very enthusiastic and very professional,' said Riordan. 'It's providing a lot of value to the city.'

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