A plan to rezone about 400 acres of farmland for industrial uses in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has been shot down by the state Court of Appeals.
The City of Woodburn decided to expand its urban growth boundary by 400 acres in 2005 to attract companies and accommodate employment growth.
Oregon’s Land Conservation and Development Commission cleared the plan but the Oregon Court of Appeals has found that approval to be unjustified.
The ruling said that LCDC failed to explain its reasoning as to Woodburn’s compliance with Oregon’s land use goals and related laws.
“What is lacking, however, is a meaningful explanation of why the steps taken by the city satisfy those legal standards,” the court said.
The appellate court previously rejected LCDC’s approval of Woodburn’s urban growth boundary in 2010, largely on the same grounds.
The primary issue in the dispute is Woodburn’s methodology in figuring out how much land to add within its UGB.
Instead of projecting employment growth and then determining the number of acres needed to accommodate those people, the city took a “target industries” approach.
Under this approach, the city selects land and sites based on the type of employers it hopes to attract, which in this case would provide higher-paying jobs, the ruling said.
Woodburn wanted to offer a variety of “suitable sites” for companies to chose from, which meant that other parcels within the UGB might not be immediately developed, the ruling said.
Groups that opposed the plan — 1,000 Friends of Oregon, Friends of Marion County, the Marion County Farm Bureau and several individuals — claimed the city had added more industrial land than it needed for projected job growth.
Opponents claimed Woodburn’s plan violated Oregon land use planning goals related to economic development and urbanization.
The Oregon Court of Appeals has now ordered LCDC to reconsider its approval and better explain how the plan complies with state law.
The commission’s previous explanation “does not include the reasoning that led LCDC from the facts to its conclusion,” the ruling said.