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River Plan update

For several years, the City has been working on an update to the Willamette Greenway Plan: the River Plan. This comprehensive plan addresses a broad set of issues for the land along the Willamette River, including supporting harbor Industries, revitalizing neighborhoods, enhancing recreation and ensuring the health of the river’s natural resources.

The River Plan / North Reach was adopted unanimously by the Portland City Council in April 2010. It was subsequently appealed by Gunderson, LLC; Schnitzer Steel Industries; and the Working Waterfront Coalition.

On Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) remanded the plan back to the City. While LUBA did not agree with many arguments put forth by the appellants, it did rule that the environmental zones, the vegetation enhancement standard and the trail area might reduce the City’s supply of industrial land.

LUBA said that the City must quantify the net number of acres, if any, the new regulations may remove from industrial development, and evaluate the impact of any net reduction on the City’s inventory of industrial lands.

The City had an opportunity to appeal this decision to the Court of Appeals but decided it was in the best interest of the City to keep the plan moving forward. Before bringing a revised River Plan back to council, BPS will finalize an opportunities analysis. That analysis will go before the Planning and Sustainability Commission and City Council, likely in the Fall.

In more recent developments, Gunderson, et al, appealed the LUBA decision and filed petitions for judicial review with the Court of Appeals. The City has until March 25 to respond to industry’s arguments.

There have been several stories in the local press about the River Plan, the LUBA decision and appeals, including an op-ed by former Planning Commission Chair Don Hanson. To read it in the Oregonian, visit:
The overall purpose of the River Plan is to balance economic development and protection with enhancement of natural resources. Until it is re-adopted, the Willamette Greenway Plan will continue to be in effect for river development.