LCDC Remands McMinnville Urban Growth Boundary Expansion

On February 29, 2012, the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) sent an excessive urban growth boundary expansion plan back to the City of McMinnville. The plan was previously overturned by the Oregon Court of Appeals in July 2011, after 1000 Friends of Oregon, local resident Ilsa Perse, and Friends of Yamhill County demonstrated that its impacts on over 800 acres of top-quality farmland were unjustified and unnecessary.

1000 Friends supports planning to meet the needs of McMinnville’s residents for housing, employment, places to shop, schools, parks, and more.  1000 Friends has demonstrated that the city has many ways to meet these needs and maintain livable neighborhoods for current and future residents—without harming the irreplaceable farmland that has long provided the backbone of the Yamhill County economy.

Too often cities consider agricultural lands as “vacant” and the only way to meet future needs, without recognizing either the value of those lands for the agricultural economy or the prohibitive cost to provide urban services to new lands.  

Agricultural land is not empty land waiting to be developed. It is unique industrial land that supports thousands of jobs and has ripples throughout the region’s economy. By some measures, agriculture is the leading industry in Yamhill County. And it’s a growing industry – supporting a farm and tourism economy that cannot be “outsourced.” Urbanizing such productive and valuable land should be a last resort.

Fortunately, McMinnville has considerable developable land within its current urban growth boundary and non-farmland areas just outside of it. By focusing development in these areas, McMinnville can accommodate realistic growth in a cost-effective way, investing in areas where infrastructure already exists and people already live nearby. In contrast, the long-term costs of extending sewer, roads, water, and other urban services to new lands are high. These costs are borne by all existing residents, and are never fully considered in UGB expansions.

LCDC’s decision, known as a “remand,” gives McMinnville an opportunity to plan a more balanced and cost-effective direction for its future. 1000 Friends looks forward to working with the City to identify and pursue such a path.