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Oregon land-use officials approve Eugene UGB expansion


The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) on Monday approved a 969-acre expansion of the Eugene urban growth boundary (UGB). The UGB expansion provides space for the city to grow to accommodate jobs, open space, and schools for the next 20 years.

The agencydirector approved the action, following a decision by the City of Eugene and Lane County earlier this year. No party objected to the expansion, so the approval is final, according to DLCD.

Under Oregon land-use law, a city’s urban growth boundary must contain an adequate supply of land for 20 years of growth in housing, employment land, industrial land, public facilities, and open space, while seeking to preserve high value agricultural land, commercial forests, and habitat. UGBs encourage cities to make intentional, public decisions about how and where development will occur.

“We are pleased to approve this action for Eugene,” said Jim Rue, the agency director. “It’s clear the city made an effort to listen to their community and involve them in the decision. They found a solution that works.”

This amendment is the first major expansion of the Eugene UGB since it was established in 1982. Originally, the UGB encompassed both Eugene and Springfield, with the two cities establishing distinct urban growth boundaries in 2011.

The UGB drawn in 1982 was thought to include land needed for growth through the year 2000. However, growth over the last 35 years was slower than expected, and use of land was more efficient than projected. In part due to this efficient development, the current UGB still contains land for a 20-year supply of housing. As a result, the approved 969-acre expansion does not include areas dedicated to development of housing.

The city identified a need for more land to promote jobs, though. “The city found land that would meet its economic development needs without unnecessarily consuming farmland,” Rue said. “That’s not to say the incoming land isn’t zoned for agricultural use now, but the tradeoff is a net gain because the acres being moved inside the UGB include only the land Eugene needs to accommodate job growth happening in the city,” he explained.

In the past year, the DLCD director has approved all five UGB requests submitted for review. Preparing and adopting a UGB expansion is not a small task for a city, but the effort pays off by ensuring growth takes place in an efficient, deliberate way. Sandy, Madras, Lakeview, Lafayette, and now Eugene have completed planning to address long-term land needs. Lafayette’s approval was granted after its second submittal because the city did not proposed to include enough land to satisfy all its needs the first time.

Oregon’s statewide land use planning program — originated in 1973 under Senate Bill 100 — protects farm and forest lands, conserves natural resources, promotes livable communities, facilitates orderly and efficient development, helps coordination among local governments, and enables citizen involvement.

The program affords all Oregonians predictability and sustainability to the development process by allocating land for industrial, commercial and housing development, as well as transportation and agriculture.

The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) administers the program. A seven-member volunteer citizen board known as the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) guides DLCD.

Under the program, all cities and counties have adopted comprehensive plans that meet mandatory state standards. The standards are 19 Statewide Planning Goals that deal with land use, development, housing, transportation, and conservation of natural resources. Periodic review of plans and technical assistance in the form of grants to local jurisdictions are key elements of the program.

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