As the Metro Council moves toward making a decision about expanding the urban growth boundary this fall, it will consider options regarding how to go about that process – or if the boundary needs expanding at all.
Metro staff will present those options and their recommendations about the boundary at an open house and forum from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, July 28 at the Hillsboro Civic Center Auditorium. After the presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session.
In October, when a final urban growth boundary vote is scheduled, the council will face two main questions. First, it must decide if the boundary has the capacity to accommodate housing needs for the next 20 years. It must also determine whether the boundary has enough industrial land to allow for expansion in the same time period.
"In the presentation we'll outline the context for the fall growth management decision and the staff recommendation released July 5," said Metro spokesman Ken Ray. "We'll pose to the audience the questions before the Metro Council."
Those questions will help determine how the Metro region grows and will affect how communities develop.
The council could decide that there is adequate land for more housing, but if it does determine expansion is needed, it will choose from seven areas for expansion.
"It's a range of need. The question is: Where do we land?" Ray said. "If the council picks the low end, we don't need urban growth boundary expansion. If the council wants to go higher, it will involve some expansion."
Metro planners have determined there is a need for industrial lots over 50 acres. There is only one area – a 310-acre parcel of land north of Hillsboro, south of U.S. 26 – that staff has recommended for industrial expansion.
If the boundary is expanded, it will relieve the pressure on cities to become more densely populated but could also encroach on farmland. However, if the boundary does not expand, there could be a shift in where people choose to live toward satellite communities outside of the boundary, such as Vancouver.
No matter what is decided, there will be ripple effects on other areas Metro is involved in, such as the Regional Transportation Plan.
"[The decision] affects where public investment goes," Ray said. "Where we choose to grow affects how we invest in our communities."
After Thursday's meeting, the next formal step for the Metro Council is an Oct. 6 public hearing before the Metro Council. A final public hearing and council vote is scheduled to take place Oct. 20.
The public can also take a survey through Metro's Opt In online panel, at www.optinpanel.org.