It’s been half a century since Beaverton began its transformation from a Tualatin Valley farm town to a major Oregon city.
Now, leaders in the state's sixth-largest city say they need more room to handle population growth, and are looking to the city’s southwest for new development.
"It's really the main growth area that we have in our community, and we believe that development is going to happen much faster than we originally planned," said Cheryl Twete, Beaverton's community development director.
The Cooper Mountain area is made up of three areas: a 510-acre area to the north that's inside the urban growth boundary but still in unincorporated Washington County; a 544-acre area to the south that was annexed into the city in 2012; and a 1,242-acre urban reserve area in between.
To allow for new greenfield development, officials are hoping to add the reserve area to its UGB.
The Metro Council is required to make sure there’s enough developable land within the region’s urban growth boundary to handle 20 years of growth. Right now, economists, demographers and other experts are preparing a forecast for growth and development in the coming decades. If they say more land is needed, the Metro Council will choose where an expansion will take place.
Hillsboro, King City, Sherwood and Wilsonville have also expressed interest in a UGB expansion this year.
Beaverton leaders say now is the right time, with North Cooper Mountain having few opportunities for new housing and activity on South Cooper Mountain – among the last large parcels of land remaining for development in Beaverton – progressing at a faster-than-expected pace.
With developers eager to break ground, Twete said she expects the South Cooper Mountain area to be nearly built-out as early as 2023 or 2024.
About 2,500 housing units either have received land use approval or are under review. Another 752 have been discussed with the city.
"We want to lay the groundwork for future growth in Beaverton and not have a lag between when this (reserve) land would be ready for development and the demand in the community," Twete said.
If Metro approves its request this round, city officials say that it would still be at least six years before the land is ready for housing construction. But if its request is denied, the next opportunity the city would have to add the entire area would be 2024 since the next mid-cycle review, 2021, limits the region's total expansion to 1,000 acres.
A concept plan for the three areas, approved in 2014, aims to strike a balance between preserving the unique landscape that people love about the area and finding space for a growing population.
Though the reserve area is 1,242 acres, officials estimate that only about 600 is developable, with the 230-acre, Metro-owned Cooper Mountain Nature Park and the surrounding creeks and wetlands covering a large central portion of the area.
The plan calls for as many as 3,700 housing units. Brian Martin, the city's planning manager, said there would be a mix of single-family homes, townhomes and apartments. There would be neighborhoods with large lots, ones with smaller lots and ones where the houses are clustered on the more buildable portions of a property, giving residents views of and access to the nearby natural areas.
The costs of new infrastructure would be shared between developers, the city, county and other agencies that serve Beaverton like Clean Water Services and Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District. In the case of South Cooper Mountain, supplemental transportation and parks fees were created to help offset the costs of projects. The extra charges would add another $6,800 to $10,200 on top of the system development fees already charged to developers of new homes.
Cost estimates for the urban reserve area would be set in a later community plan, but officials say that the detailed planning that's gone into the South Cooper Mountain area will better inform them about how best to plan and fund the necessary improvements.
Because the urban reserve area sits in the middle of two areas that are already in the UGB, officials say its addition is important to creating a comprehensive utility and road plan for the entire area.
"One of the themes that emerged for us is … recognizing not just the needs of this particular area in and of itself, but how this fits into the overall region both within Beaverton and in the neighboring communities," said Anna Slatinsky, a principal planner with the city.
"When it comes to infrastructure, stormwater, traffic, it doesn't stop at a political boundary, but doing planning for this full area allows us to really thoughtfully approach questions of how the traffic will flow, how the infrastructure will be provided, how the natural areas will work and do so in a comprehensive way."