Setting the Record Straight on Newberg's UGB Proposal

As the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners considers a flawed urban growth boundary proposal doggedly pursued by the City of Newberg, 1000 Friends' Mia Nelson tells the Newberg Graphic why the City is taking the wrong course.

Update, December 6: The Yamhill County Board of Commissioners has voted to reject Newberg's current propsal, requesting that the City consider our proposed compromise. More details to come.

Tyler Franke reports:

    Just a few days before the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on an expansion of Newberg’s urban growth boundary (UGB), two groups that oppose that measure have issued a joint response to a meeting held on the subject last week.
   Commissioners met with the Newberg City Council at the Public Safety Building Nov. 26 to discuss the addition of 132 gross buildable acres (about 260 total acres) southwest of the city along or near Highway 219. That session primarily encompassed a presentation by city staff, as testimony from project opponents had been entered before commissioners during an earlier meeting.
   However, representatives of two land-use activist groups, 1000 Friends of Oregon and Friends of Yamhill County, attended last week’s hearing and released a joint statement several days later, blasting what they described as a “myopic and misleading presentation.”

  Among other complaints, Mia Nelson, of 1000 Friends, and Sid Friedman, of Friends of Yamhill County, said Newberg Planning and Building Director Barton Brierley “completely misrepresented” their proposed alternative, saying it consisted of different sites than it does and wouldn’t provide all the industrial land the city needs.
   “Finally, city staff claimed our proposal would place industrial uses in hilly, residential areas, even though the alternative sites are flat and are adjacent to existing industrial or commercial areas,” the statement read in part. “Newberg residents know the proposed area — it’s along South Springbrook Road between Fernwood and Wilsonville roads — and they know it’s not hilly.”
   In a phone interview, Nelson said the compromise Friends offered to city officials and three councilors during round-table discussions last summer would have included that land to the east of Springbrook Road along with much of the area in the current UGB proposal — with the exception of two large parcels of farm land.
   Those two parcels are one of the prime sticking points in the disagreement. Friends says state law necessitates farm land be developed only if there are no suitable alternatives — and the group argues that’s not the case here.
   “It’s fine to take farmland if you don’t have an option,” she said. “But what’s not fine is to pretend like you don’t have other options when you do, and that’s what’s happening here.”
   Nelson said most of the Springbrook Road area, which is currently zoned multifamily residential, will one day neighbor the Newberg-Dundee bypass and would make good, “shovel-ready” industrial land. She alleged the city’s reason for pursuing its original proposal is an agreement made in 2007 with Walter Gaibler, the owner of the largest parcel of farm land in the UGB expansion. In the contract, the city did not promise the property would be admitted in the UGB, but agreed to “diligently pursue” the matter, and Nelson believes officials are worried to drop the proposal now would spark a lawsuit.
   Brierley responded to the claims this week, saying the land in the proposal was chosen based on public input and expert opinion that businesses interested in relocating or expanding need three things: good access, level sites and compatibility with neighboring land uses.
   “They can’t have conflicts with nearby residents,” he said. “If you’ve got a site that’s missing those elements, businesses are just going to look elsewhere. And the area we’re proposing has all those features, and really, there aren’t any others that have those characteristics.”
   He said the Springbrook Road area proposed by Friends has large suburban-style neighborhoods to the north and south, as well as a mobile-home park nearby.
   “It’s right in the middle of residential areas. There would be some pretty big conflicts,” he said.
   Commissioners will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at their office, 434 N.E. Evans St. in McMinnville, but there are a number of items on their agenda in addition to the UGB proposal. If approved, the issue would then go before the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. Opponents would not be permitted to appeal the project until and unless it is approved by the state.
   “Hopefully, there will be no need to appeal,” Nelson said. “Our hope and belief is that the state will not approve this.”

As we do in cities around the state, 1000 Friends staff have worked diligently throughout the Newberg UGB evaluation process to find a legal and smart UGB proposal to accommodate new jobs and homes, and make the best use of infrastructure and taxpayers' dollars. We do not believe Newberg's proposal meets this standard, and urge the County Commissioners to reject it until it does.

See this article online on the Graphic's website.