Zoning, streets spark action

A small group of homeowners who were recently annexed into the City of Forest Grove against their will filed a Notice of Intent to Appeal with the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) Friday, March 8.

The appeal raises two issues, according to Ben Knaupp, the real-estate attorney who filed it and who also lives in one of the annexed homes with his family.

First, the petitioners claim that state law requires, at minimum, a three-year waiting period before annexation takes effect if the annexed homes are island properties zoned for residential use both before and after the annexation.

City Attorney Chris Crean says he checked with Washington County planners about the zoning before the city proceeded with the annexation. He said that although the properties have a residential use, they are not zoned R for residential, but rather “FD” for Future Development, which the county calls an "urban holding zone" and does not consider residential.

Knaupp and several other property owners who helped fund the appeal are also concerned that the city annexed only their homes and not their county-owned streets, which are badly in need of repair. While no specific law requires the city to do so, Knaupp said, zoning and Metro guidelines related to annexation both strongly encourage including the streets.

Forest Grove officials have been talking with Washington County representatives about having them hand over ownership and responsibility for the streets. It’s planning three open houses, beginning April 9, to discuss the issue with the newly annexed property owners, as well as others on such streets.

Knaupp said he’d want firm assurances from the city that it’s taking over street repair and maintenance before dropping that part of the appeal.

The city recorder has until March 29—21 days from the date the intent-to-appeal was filed—to prepare the official city record of all materials related to the annexation decision. The appellants then have 21 days to file a brief, after which the city has 21 days to file a response. At that point, both sides argue their case before LUBA.

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