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Land use

Oregon Lawmakers Organize Meeting To Settle Disputes Over Urban, Rural Reserves

Oregon lawmakers say a new appeals court ruling could unite opposing groups behind a new plan for where development should occur in the Portland metro area. They’re planning a meeting Friday to work on a negotiated settlement.

On Thursday, the court struck down three key parts of a 50-year development plan for the region. The plan would establish urban reserves that would be open to potential development in the future and rural reserves that are off limits.

But now that plan is on hold, which also delays action on development in Washington County that is tied up in an overlapping legal fight over expanding the urban growth boundary.

Representative Brian Clem helped design a so-called “land-use grand bargain” bill that he says would “resolve 90-plus percent of the angst around what led to the lawsuits.” Most notably, it would address conflicts over development in the rural Helvetia community west of Portland. He says the court ruling has motivated stakeholders to consider a settlement, and that his bill could help pave the way.

“Now we know what the courts think and we’re back in limbo on everything,” Clem said. “I’m trying to offer a path forward for all sides that should give an outcome everyone can feel pretty good about.”

Clem says he’s hoping to pass a bill this session that would resolve most of the disputes over establishing urban and rural reserves.

Tom Hughes, president of the Metro Council, which helped develop the urban and rural reserves plan, says the court ruling supported the overall concept even though it found fault with certain reserves.

“The good news is about 80 percent of what we’ve worked on the last few years in terms of establishing urban and rural reserves has been confirmed by the court,” he said. “They’ve confirmed the basics, and now we’re down to working out the details.”

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