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The Metro and Tri-County Urban and Rural Reserves Process

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(Note: Much of this information is taken from the Metro Reserves web site.  More detailed information may be found there, and many of the links on this page refer to pages at that site.)

What are urban and rural reserves?
Who are the decision-makers?
What areas are affected?
How were these areas chosen?
What criteria will be used to determine the final reserve areas?
What is happening right now?
How can I help?

What are urban and rural reserves?

From 2008 through 2012, Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties and Metro led a regional process to identify land for future urban development and protect farms, forests and natural areas for the next half century.

During that time, Metro and the three counties entered into agreements that would determine the location and scale of urban development for the next 40 to 50 years.  These same agreements would determine which natural features will be protected from development and which lands the region believes are most valuably maintained as farms and forests over that same time period.

Urban reserves would be designated by Metro on lands currently outside the urban growth boundary that are suitable for accommodating urban development over the next 40 to 50 years.  Rural reserves would be designated by each county on lands outside the current urban growth boundary that are high value working farms and forests or have important natural features like rivers, wetlands, buttes and floodplains.  These areas would be protected from urbanization for the next 40 to 50 years.

These land use designations would not change current zoning or restrict landowners’ currently allowed use of their lands.  They would provide greater clarity regarding the long term expected use of the land and allow both public and private landowners to make long term investments with greater assurance.

Who are the decision-makers?

The Reserves Steering Committee (RSC), co-led by Metro and the three counties, will oversee the study of potential urban and rural reserves and advise the Metro Council and county commissions on the formal designations of these areas.  Metro will designate the urban reserves, and each county will designate their rural reserves.  All four parties have agreed that Reserves decisions will be made jointly and must be unanimous.  A Metro Councilor and one representative from each county (known as the "Core 4") will lead the negotiations on behalf of their commissions and councils.  The RSC also includes officials from local cities, as well as representatives of various business sectors, the agricultural community, the environmental conservation community, and social and economic equity organizations.  View the full list of RSC members.

Since the Helvetia area is in Washington County, we are primarily interested in the Washington County Reserves Coordinating Committee (RCC or WCRCC).

Potential urban reserves
Potential urban reserves

What areas are affected?

Each county and Metro has submitted preliminary maps of rural and urban study areas.  The map to the right shows the area north of highway 26, including Helvetia.  The brown areas show potential URBAN reserves in Washington County.  (Click the map for a larger, interactive version.)


How were these areas chosen?

Hillsboro's aspirations
Hillsboro's growth aspirations
 

That's a great question.  It appears that the Helvetia areas were chosen by Hillsboro when the WCRCC asked each city to submit their 50-year growth aspirations.  (See maps: full map [color, PDF, 764KB]top only, with road names [B&W, JPG, 290KB])  We're not sure what method Hillsboro used to come up with these areas, but they do appear in an undated document titled "Growing Urban Communities" that was distributed at a WRCCC meeting late last year.  Washington County then combined all of the cities' 50-year growth aspirations and "rounded outward", resulting in the “potential urban reserves” map referred to above.

It's extremely important to note that the Hillsboro maps were prepared by Hillsboro planning staff and consultants, with little or no public input or review. 

What criteria will be used to determine the final reserve areas?

By law, the counties and Metro must evaluate candidate reserve areas according to specific factors. There are factors for designating both urban and rural reserves.  Our factors page shows them in detail.

What is happening right now?

The Reserves process was long and complex.  Save Helvetia issued many updates via our e-mail list, most of which are archived here.  The last four significant updates were in September 2009, January 2010, September 2012, and January 2014.

On January 16, 2013, Save Helvetia and eight other groups appealed the Metro decision designating urban and rural reserves to the State of Oregon Court of Appeals.  As of December 2013, no ruling had been issued by the judges.

The best way to keep up-to-date on the latest information is to join the Save Helvetia e-mail list.

How can I help?

Please visit our action page to learn many ways you can help us Save Helvetia - the jewel of Washington County!


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