Metro agrees to arbitrate Basalt Creek land use issue
The Tualatin City Council wants a subarea of the Basalt Creek planning district east of Grahams Ferry Road and north of the future extension of Basalt Creek Parkway to be zoned for residential use.
The Wilsonville City Council wants it to be industrial land.
Now the two cities, unable to reach an agreement among themselves, have agreed in principle to turn the decision over to a third party: Metro, the regional government, which originally added the unincorporated land in between Tualatin to the north and Wilsonville to the south to the urban growth boundary in 2004.
"Metro has agreed to decide the matter," Jim Middaugh, a Metro spokesman, confirmed in an email Wednesday, Nov. 15.
Metro, Tualatin and Wilsonville, along with Washington County, entered into an intergovernmental agreement in 2011 to conduct a joint planning process that officials expect to ultimately lead to the annexation and redevelopment of the area.
Tualatin and Wilsonville had nearly agreed on a map designating future land uses in the Basalt Creek area, a required step before Washington County approves any annexations there, when the Tualatin City Council decided in February it wanted to change the designation of the "central subarea," about 63 acres — about two-thirds of them developable — on the side of the 847-acre planning area that has been tentatively marked for future incorporation into Tualatin. The Wilsonville City Council strongly objected, pushing back on Tualatin's arguments for re-designating the subarea as residential and saying it should be zoned for industrial use, like the majority of the Basalt Creek area is expected to be.
Attempts to mediate an agreement between the two sides have failed, said Middaugh. That effectively leaves them in a stalemate.
"The current IGA that we have between Tualatin and Wilsonville and Washington County and Metro … doesn't designate a higher power if we can't agree. It's never addressed in the IGA," Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden said at a council meeting Monday, Nov. 13.
As a result, the partners are planning to adopt a new IGA that will designate Metro as the dispute arbiter. The Tualatin City Council was originally slated to consider the IGA at Monday's meeting, but it was taken off its agenda before the meeting.
"It's just taking more time than we had anticipated," Ogden explained.
Metro will conduct a public process, hearing arguments from both sides of the dispute, to come to a final decision, according to Middaugh.
"Both sides will make some form of presentation," he wrote in Wednesday's email. "Metro's chief operating officer will make a recommendation to the Metro Council based on the information presented. The Metro Council will then vote on the recommendation."
Ogden said he has been told Metro wants to complete its arbitration by the end of March.
Once the land use concept map is set, Metro and Washington County must sign off before the county allows Tualatin to annex south to Basalt Creek Parkway and Wilsonville to annex north to the parkway. The annexations are expected to create a jurisdictional boundary between Tualatin and Wilsonville for the first time, as the cities are currently separated by unincorporated areas.