Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

UGB opponents want dialogue


First, I am part of the group that opposes Woodburn’s urban-growth boundary (UGB) expansion, so I have a different perspective on how “the system” works than does the city and the mayor.

While I could go into the merits of the UGB plan, I am focusing on the “land-use system” as that is what Mayor Kathy Figley was complaining about in her most recent op-ed (“Changes must be made to a broken land-use system in Oregon,”?July 2).

I am afraid that the mayor has so much invested in the UGB expansion proposal that she is giving the citizens of Woodburn only part of the story.

The mayor faults “the system,” but she fails to point out that the city has taken advantage of the system and that they have contributed to the time it has taken to reach a decision. Instead of blaming an external factor, like the state land-use system, Woodburn needs to look within.

For instance, the mayor fails to point out that in 1997, when the process began, the city hired a consultant who concluded Woodburn did not even need an urban growth boundary expansion. Rather than adopt the report, the city chose to shelve it and return to square one by hiring a new consultant. This added over a year to the process.

Later, when Marion County developed an Urban Growth Management Framework between themselves and the incorporated areas in the county, Woodburn rejected it and sued the county.

Once again, that took time which had nothing to do with the “land-use system.” Similarly, throughout the litigation of the UGB, Woodburn consistently requested extensions on filing deadlines.

At one point, they almost ran out of extensions. This, too, has nothing to do with “the system,” but were delays of Woodburn’s own making.

There is a more fundamental problem with the mayor’s analysis, however. She seems to believe that if a city comes up with a plan and goes through the process, the law doesn’t matter.

In her view, the process is sufficient, no matter the outcome and no matter how flagrantly it violates Oregon’s land-use protections for farm land and for taxpayers.

But that’s not how planning should be done. It should be based on facts. The reason the city of Woodburn failed, again and again, is simple: The city decided they wanted to become an industrial center but they didn’t have the data to make the case.

The Court of Appeals has made clear (twice) that asserting a result was not the same as proving it.

We who opposed the plan are still willing to talk with the city and to get the issue settled. It is the city who has consistently refused to listen.

In 2010, when the Court of Appeals first sent the city’s proposal back, we opponents offered a settlement. The mayor and City Council deny an offer was made so I can only surmise that city staff did not convey the offer, which is a city staff problem, not a “system” problem.

I hope that the city finally agrees to talk with us. There is relatively little land in dispute. It would be better for everyone, including Woodburn’s taxpayers, if this gets solved now.