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Metro Supports Legislative Deal To Change Long-Term Growth Map

OPB | Feb. 25, 2014 4:39 p.m. | Updated: Feb. 25, 2014 6:39 p.m. | Portland

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The Metro Council unanimously backed a legislative compromise Tuesday to salvage long-term growth plans just ahead of a public hearing in Salem.

Metro’s move is a vote of confidence in legislating revisions to Portland area growth maps, in the wake of a devastating court decision. 

It took years for Metro and the three counties to agree on a map of rural and urban reserves to chart growth over the next five decades.

The reserves drew court challenges from property owners and interest groups.

A few weeks ago, legislators worked up changes to the reserves’ map - a move that Metro councilors opposed, at first.

Then, the Appeals Court ruled and blew big holes in the approved map, finding fault with how counties identified areas for growth or conservation.

“The court decision changed everybody’s attitude about the value of holding out, of not compromising, basically,” said Metro president Tom Hughes.

As it stands now, the legislative plan leaves much of the reserves map alone, though it would alter some particularly controversial spots.

Metro councilors weren’t entirely happy.

Carlotta Collette represents much of Clackamas County on Metro.

“I mean I think this is a pretty good outcome from a pretty serious remand from the Court of Appeals, ” Collette told her council colleagues. “I’m a bit concerned about my district, concerned about where this puts us for the next urban growth boundary decisions.”

A majority of Clackamas County commissioners have expressed their opposition to the bargain, arguing it helps Washington County at their jurisdiction’s expense. 

Hughes expressed confidence that a deal has the support of Governor John Kitzhaber - given the role of the governor’s adviser.

“He was scheduled to be with us for an hour to help mediate on Friday, and he blew off two other meetings and stayed all the way through until five,” Hughes said. “I think he was pretty sincere about getting something done.”

Hughes says the deal doesn’t alleviate a concern he’s had about the reserves’ map. He wanted more urban reserves designated for future development. By his quick math, the new draft map shrinks urban reserves by a few thousand acres.

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