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North Plains Urban Growth Boundary Expansion Just Beginning – Help Our City Grow Thoughtfully and Positively

A special message from the North Plains City Council

IMG_5349 - CopyThe Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) Expansion approval is just the start of this important multi-year community planning process. As your North Plains City Council, we invite you to get involved and help us as we transition to planning for housing, employment, commercial services, parks and trails, and roads and infrastructure.

We understand that support for the UGB expansion is not unanimous. No planning proposal ever is. North Plains also is not part of Metro and therefore has a different process than some in our area are familiar with. Without question, we all care deeply about this community. We want to work together as a community to keep North Plains a great place to live, work, shop, and play – and where everyone has a voice.

We all recognize the need for housing and jobs, but we also want to protect natural areas. Our expansion boundary was carefully crafted to grow only as much as reasonable over the next twenty years, and with the support of affected landowners and farmers.

There is much work yet to be done and North Plains residents deserve the latest facts about their city’s future growth. Below we address key questions that North Plains residents are asking about the UGB and the recently approved Oregon House Bill 4026.

Question 1: What is the basic overview of the North Plains UGB Expansion and where we are?

  • This expansion was initiated many years ago by the City as required by Oregon law to plan for a 20-year supply of land to accommodate the predicted population increase.
  • The UGB expansion area application was approved by City Council in September 2023, concluding a three-year-long formal public process.
  • A referendum for registered voters to vote yes or no to the approved expansion was placed on the May 2024 ballot because of a petition signed by 278 residents.
  • The bipartisan measure House Bill 4026A was signed into Oregon law on March 20, 2024. This new law specifies that urban expansions in Oregon are administrative actions, not legislative decisions, and are not subject to a voter referendum under Oregon’s Constitution.
  • The next stage of work will be community engagement for long-range concept planning and appropriate zoning and elements of the UGB area.

Question 2: How did House Bill 4026A, recently approved by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor, come about?

Rumors are circulating that the City of North Plains petitioned the state to block residents from voting on the UGB referendum in the upcoming May election. This is not the case. The recently approved House Bill 4026A is a bipartisan measure that clarifies the process of expanding a UGB consistent with Oregon cities growth legislation. The timing of the recent Oregon House Bill 4026A made North Plains a case example in what is a statewide issue.

The state’s chronic shortage of housing and the Legislature’s policy response to it has focused attention on Oregon’s land use process. Many other government agencies and stakeholders want to provide certainty in Oregon's land-use process, including the State's urban growth boundary law.

Question 3: Did the City Council approve the UGB expansion on its own?

No. City Council approved the UGB expansion area after a thoughtful, multi-year process including public involvement, and the expansion must also be approved by Washington County and the State’s planning and development agency.

There have been more than 20 public meetings and public engagement opportunities, notices and regular updates through many communications channels, and presentations to the North Plains Chamber and Washington County. And this is just the beginning. There is much planning work yet to be done and public engagement has been and will continue to be important and invited.

Question 4: Do farmers within the UGB expansion boundary have a choice of whether to continue farming or to sell their land?

Yes. There is nothing in the UGB expansion plan that takes property away or forces anyone to sell their land. Most of the farmers within the UGB expansion area support the City’s UGB process and all have the choice to continue farming as long as they choose or to sell their land.  

Question 5: What’s next?

The next stage of work will be community engagement for long-range concept planning and appropriate zoning of the UGB area. All North Plains residents can get involved and are needed as we all work together to identify opportunities for our community, including:

  • multigenerational employment and housing
  • commercial services
  • parks and trails
  • road networks and other infrastructure.

This will begin in 2024 with the help of a $230,000 grant from the State of Oregon. We all look forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder to do this important long-term planning and help North Plains grow thoughtfully and positively.

Help our city grow thoughtfully and positively.
Growth is happening in our region. We invite and encourage our residents’ participation and open, respectful exchange of ideas. We have a great opportunity to work together as a community to maintain the North Plains we all love - while creating positive opportunities for future generations.

More background on the North Plains UGB is available at www.northplains.org/UGB. Please also feel free to contact us with your questions.