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City UGB case headed to Oregon Supreme Court

Woodburn seeks review of Court of Appeals' January ruling in the long-running effort to expand the city's urban growth boundary


The city of Woodburn has filed a petition with the Oregon Supreme Court to review a lower court’s adverse ruling in the city’s long-running urban growth boundary (UGB) expansion case.

City Attorney Bob Shields announced and explained the filing in a statement that was posted to the city’s website Friday afternoon. The petition had been previously authorized by the Woodburn City Council at its Jan. 27 session.

The petition stems from a Jan. 2 decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals, in which the judges reversed the Land Conservation and Development Commission’s approval of the city’s UGB proposal, remanding it back to the LCDC. The city’s plans were to amend its UGB to include 409 gross acres — or 362 net buildable acres — for industrial use, and the expansion was cleared by both the Marion County Commission and the LCDC.

However, on appeal by the land-use activist group 1000 Friends of Oregon, the appellate court ruled “that the LCDC did not adequately explain the reasons that led it to conclude the city’s UGB amendment complied with applicable law.”

City officials felt otherwise.

“We believe (the) LCDC wrote an excellent and detailed explanation for its decision, and we failed to see what more was needed,” Mayor Kathy Figley told the Independent in January.

The turn of events mirrored a similar set of circumstances in 2011, when the Court of Appeals also remanded an earlier UGB proposal by the city, after ruling that the LCDC decision in that instance was “inadequate for judicial review.”

According to Shields, at least three of the seven Supreme Court justices must vote to grant the city’s petition before the matter can come before the high court.

The petition argues three points: that the lower court applied the wrong standard of judicial review, incorrectly applied a judicial doctrine for the review of UGB cases, and should have deferred to LCDC’s plausible interpretation of the statewide land use goals relevant to UGB expansions.

Reached Monday morning, Mary Kyle McCurdy, policy director and staff attorney for 1000 Friends, said she had just received a copy of the petition and had not yet had a chance to review it. She noted, however, that 1000 Friends is not entirely against the city’s proposal. Its opposition is primarily limited to the amendment’s inclusion of “prime farm land.”

“In general, we’d prefer to be working on more effective and forward-moving efforts with the city of Woodburn,” she said. “Most of the UGB expansion is not at issue.”

Shields estimated that the decision regarding whether the high court will take up the case would take three to four months.



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