On September 7th, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a decision on a long running and complex case involving Stafford-area landowners, HBA, Metro, DLCD, and the three major cities in the area. The case stems from a decades long battle over the future urbanization and path for growth in the Stafford area. Last week’s ruling signaled that state and local governments may not arbitrarily deny plans for growth quite as easily as they have in the past. The court found that intergovernmental agreements (IGA’s) that prevent development planning to occur, while not posing a formal land-use decision, do in fact meet a significant impacts test, which effectively result in land use decisions. At issue is the specific legality of IGA’s that Lake Oswego, West Linn, and Tualatin signed in 2017 – 2019 and DLCD greenlit. Essentially, the IGA’s instituted a development planning moratorium on many parts of the Stafford area until significant transportation upgrades were made to I-205 and surrounding infrastructure. HBA and others originally challenged the IGA’s, which prevented certain portions of Stafford to be concept planned until 2028. Since then, several landowners challenged validity of the approval given to the IGA’s by the state’s Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). After years of legal battles, the court finally issues its ruling, citing: “Although there is no guarantee that, without the IGAs, urbanization of Stafford would move forward more quickly, we nevertheless conclude that the IGAs are likely to have a significant impact on land use in Stafford and the surrounding area within the meaning of the significant impact test. Consequently, we reverse and remand this case to LCDC for further consideration consistent with this opinion”. The Court reversed LCDC’s decision and remanded it back to LCDC to consider the merits of the petition. The Court also noted that “We agree with the hearings officer that ‘[w]hether or not the Stafford Area is urbanized will have very significant impacts’ on properties in the Stafford area and failure to concept plan for urbanization would have ‘cascading effects’ on other areas to be considered and the availability of housing for the Cities.” This conclusion will bolster arguments that delaying or preventing the urbanization of the Stafford Area will significantly impact Metro’s entire UGB/Urbanization plan because of the size and significance of Stafford. We will continue to update our members as we learn of new opportunities to engage in discussions around Stafford’s future development.