Reporting from Hillsboro
Urban and rural reserves live.
After a nine-hour meeting that at times resembled a cross between the board games Battleship and Clue, the Metro Council and Washington County Commission agreed on a plan for land reserves. The new urban and rural reserves proposal will be sent to the Land Conservation and Development Commission for consideration this summer.
In 2010, the commission remanded part of the reserves proposal back to Washington County and Metro chiefly because of concerns about urbanization north of Council Creek near Cornelius.
The new proposal kept most of what was accepted by the commission. But part of the proposed urban reserve north of Cornelius was changed to undesignated. Areas near Highway 47 north of Forest Grove went from urban to undesignated, and a new undesignated parcel was designated southwest of Aloha.
The most controversial element of the proposal, however, was changing an undesignated area north of U.S. 26 and west of Helvetia Road from undesignated to urban.
Thus begins Reserves: The Game. After taking public testimony for about seven hours, the boards met in joint session to try and hammer out a compromise each would accept. The baseline was the so-called Duyck/Hughes map, first proposed by Washington County Chair Andy Duyck and Metro Council President Tom Hughes after weeks of negotiations.
Up first were Metro councilors, each offering their own opinions on what the final map should look like. Many on the council expressed concern with the idea of designating urban reserves north of the Sunset Highway.
"Are we, by adding this change north of 26, putting at risk this whole process?" asked Councilor Rex Burkholder. "We have nothing to judge whether this would be supported by the (state land use) commission or not."
It was up to Washington County Commissioners to start guessing what would be the winning combination on the map. But instead of Miss Scarlet in the library with the candlestick, commissioners were left to figure out what would get three votes on their own board plus pass muster at Metro.
Commissioner Dick Schouten made the first guess – make the area north of 26 rural and accept the rest of the Duyck/Hughes map as is. That suggestion failed 4-1 out of concern it wouldn't give Washington County cities enough flexibility if the urban reserves do, one day, run out of suitable land.
Next up was Commissioner Roy Rogers, taking the southern portion of the area north of Cornelius and making it an urban reserve, with rural north of Hobbs Road and leaving the area north of the Sunset Highway as undesignated.
That motion didn't even get to a vote, after it was withdrawn by Rogers because of opposition on his own board.
"As much as I would like to see an urban reserve in Cornelius, I have a fear of LCDC throwing it back," said Washington County Commissioner Bob Terry.
Terry then moved to accept the Duyck/Hughes map as-is. That failed 3-2, prompting a break in the action.
Members of the Washington County Commission and Metro Council talk during a recess at the March 15 joint meeting. In the background, former Washington County Chair Tom Brian stands on the dais, talking to his successor, Andy Duyck.
A 10 minute recess brought intense negotiations around the Shirley Huffman Auditorium. Metro staff and a few councilors met in the back room for a briefing. Joining Hughes and Duyck on the dais were Hughes' successor as Hillsboro Mayor, Jerry Willey, and Duyck's predecessor as county chair, Tom Brian. Former Metro Councilor Rod Park worked the room.
The dealings brought the boards no closer to a consensus. With the Metro Council taking the lead in the session that followed, Councilor Carl Hosticka moved to accept most of the Duyck/Hughes map, but with some of the area nearest Cornelius left undesignated, as with all of the land north of Council Creek.
The Metro Council passed that 7-0, and at 6:22 pm, recessed.
Schouten moved to accept Metro's proposal, but adding no new urban reserves wasn't good enough for the Washington County commissioners.
"I am not comfortable with the current proposal, with no urban reserves in any of it at all," Terry said. "I think some of it should be urban reserves."
Schouten's motion failed 3-2, with Commissioner Greg Malinowski the only supporting vote.
The next proposal, from Terry, was the same as the Metro proposal, but included the area north of U.S. 26 as an urban reserve. That passed 3-2, with Schouten and Malinowski opposed.
At 6:37 p.m., the Washington County Commission recessed.
Metro Councilors expressed dismay that the proposal would have to include any urban reserves north of U.S. 26.
"I respect my colleagues' concern for changing any portion of Area D to urban reserve," said Councilor Kathryn Harrington, who was Metro's lead negotiator on reserves until this year. "I don't get to make this decision by myself. I don't get to make a proposal to LCDC by myself. I do it as a member of the Metro Council and the Metro Council does so in association with our three county partners."
But with Washington County seemingly unbending, the council voted 6-1 to approve a motion, put forth by Councilor Carlotta Collette, to designate areas east of Groveland Road, between U.S. 26 and West Union Road, as an urban reserve. Councilor Shirley Craddick cast the lone dissenting vote.
The Washington County Commission voted 3-2 to support the Metro Council proposal. The meeting concluded at 6:59 p.m., nine hours after it began.
The boards will have to vote on formal agreements next month, leading up to the anticipated review by the state land commission in August.