Sherwood withdraws growth boundary request
The Sherwood City Council has voted unanimously to halt a proposal to grow by several hundred acres.
In doing so, the city will withdraw a letter of interest to the Metro Council — the regional government that oversees land-use issues — that had asked to expand the region's urban growth boundary by several hundred acres this year.
The effect on the rest of the region is unclear. Metro is now considering whether and where to expand the boundary it administers, which determines where the Portland urban area expands. The entire region is experiencing an affordable housing crisis, in large part because of a lack of new homes for the thousands of people moving here every year. Metro is even considering referring a $516.5 million affordable housing bond to the November 2018 general election ballot.
With the vote, the Sherwood City Council brought to an end — or at least pressed "pause" on — a process that has been about two years in the making.
The 7-0 vote took place April 17 in a packed room at City Hall, with every seat taken and dozens of folks standing along the walls and in the doorway. At one point, the body heat grew so intense that Sherwood Police Chief Jeff Groth opened a door leading outside to let in some fresh air.
The meeting included a lengthy public comment period that included strong testimony from those both for and against expanding the regional growth boundary, which would bring in new development west of the planned new Sherwood High School.
"My position has been fairly clear," said Mayor Keith Mays, who campaigned in March's election against submitting a 2018 expansion request. "When we look at tremendous growth in Sherwood West or anywhere," Mays said, "we for sure better know what our families, businesses, schools, community partners want, what their concerns are, and respond accordingly together."
Metro has traditionally considered whether to expand the urban growth boundary to make more room for growth every six years. But after voting not to expand the boundary in 2015, the council decided to review the decision again in three years. Metro also changed the process to require cities to submit specific requests to expand the boundary into adjacent urban reserves, which are set aside for development over the next 50 years.
Sherwood was one of five cities that submitted a preliminary request for an urban growth boundary expansion to Metro late last year. The other cities were Beaverton, Hillsboro, King City and Wilsonville. The deadline for the final requests is May 31.
In its initial letter of interest to Metro, Sherwood stated its intention to request a boundary expansion of 626 acres west of the city, with a plan to annex that area into Sherwood city limits. That letter of interest was based on work the city's Planning Department had been doing since 2016, and reflected in the city's Comprehensive Growth Plan.
In a March meeting, the City Council decided to move forward with a much smaller growth request of 373 acres, after determining there wasn't strong public support for a larger expansion.
Weeks later, the Sherwood School District Board unanimously passed a resolution urging the City Council to withdraw its 2018 growth request altogether, citing a lack of accommodations for the thousands of new students an expanded urban growth boundary eventually could bring.
In the midst of all of this, a dispute between the Sherwood School District and Metropolitan Land Group, a major landowner in the proposed growth area, came to a head. Metropolitan owns land that the district plans to use as a site for the new Sherwood High School, plus about 100 nearby acres, and the two parties have been in legal disputes over the price the district will pay the developer for the school site.
As councilors discussed the resolution before them, each one made similar arguments in favor of delaying a Metro UGB request: that the city needed more time to finalize its Comprehensive Growth Plan; that they didn't want to overwhelm the school district or the roads; and that the city will have another chance to submit a growth ask in either three or six years.
Councilor Jennifer Kuiper, looking toward those future opportunities, emphasized the need for the city's Planning Department to continue developing the growth plan.
"Tonight," she said, "is where the real work begins."