By News-Register staff • 

McMinnville seeks community input on UGB expansion

The city of McMinnville will four hold public information sessions this month on the proposed expansion of the city’s urban growth boundary, followed by public hearings on the topic in early December.

The four sessions on Nov. 11, 13, 17 and 23 are informal opportunities for people to learn about the urban growth boundary amendment, ask questions and provide feedback. The land-use public hearings on Dec. 1, 2 and 3 are more formal and people can testify for or against the proposal before the city council, Planning Director Heather Richards wrote in an email.

If residents want legal standing in the process so they can appeal the decision of the council, they will need to testify at the public hearings — attending an information session will not provide them with legal standing, Richards wrote.

The information sessions will be led by city staff, and councilors will not be present. The council will preside over the public hearings.

To sign up for the information sessions or the public hearings, visit

The recommendation from staff to expand the urban growth boundary is based on a 2003 plan that met with local opposition and a series of legal challenges, and eventually remanded back to the city.

The expansion would rezone some of the land surrounding the city to designate it for residential and commercial purposes.

Staff hopes the council will approve the plan before the end of the year so it can go to the county board of commissioners. It will then go to the Department of Land Conservation and Development for review and approval. In the case of objections, it would then go to the Land Conservation and Development Commission.

The issue has taken on new urgency for McMinnville, the city’s planning department told councilors earlier this year, as the city is gentrifying, meaning the average person struggles to afford housing and lower to mid-income individuals may be priced out of the city.

The state of Oregon requires all cities to plan for at least 20 years of population growth, in an effort to prevent urban sprawl and preserve farmland and open spaces. McMinnville created its first and only urban growth boundary in 1981 when the city’s population was 14,000. The population today is nearly 35,000 and is estimated to reach 44,000 by 2023.

The city tried expanding the boundary by about 1,200 acres, including 890 for housing, in 2003, but it was struck down by the Court of Appeals in 2011 because it relied on too much farmland in the proposed expansion. McMinnville is surrounded by high-value farmland and land marked by slopes, floodplains, earthquake risks and other challenges, which complicates planning for the expansion of the boundary.

Earlier this year, the council had to decide between starting over with a new plan or responding to a remand from the Land Conservation and Development Commission. The council is pursuing the latter.

Planning data from the city shows a need for an additional 924 acres in the urban growth boundary to accommodate around 6,000 dwelling units.


McMinnville Planning Department

Hi Everyone, just a few quick clarifications:

1) You do not need to sign up for the public information sessions. They are open to anyone to attend. They will be conducted via ZOOM, and you can find the zoom link at

2) You also do not need to sign up for the public hearings to testify. You can simply attend the meeting and indicate your desire to testify when the Mayor asks if anyone is interested in testifying. However, as a courtesy we are offering three nights of public hearings and allowing people to sign up in advance to testify on a particular night if they want to do so. You will find that sign-up sheet at next week. Public hearings will also be conducted via zoom, and the zoom links will be provided in advance of the public hearings.

3) The proposed UGB amendment that the City Council is considering is for 662.40 gross buildable acres or 862.40 gross acres. It is intended to serve the need for approximately 1500 new housing units, parks, public amenities and commercial land. The 924 gross buildable acres cited in the article is the total gross buildable acres for the 2003 plan, however 259 acres was amended into the UGB in 2004, which we are calling Phase I of this UGB amendment, and Phase II is the amendment currently being contemplated.

4) The population forecast of 44,000 people in 2023 was forecasted in 1999, and is part of the legal record that we are using for this remand work. Since we are working on finishing up a plan that was first developed by McMinnville in 2003, we are using the data that was acknowledged with that plan.

UGBs are complicated enough with the Oregon Land Use system and all of the governing state statutes that need to be addressed, but this one is even more complicated due to its long history of opposition, challenges and legal appeals. Learn more about it by attending one of the public information sessions scheduled during this month.


I wonder how many businesses would survive if their growth was based on 20-year-old data. Currently, McMinnville will need to grow by about 30% in two years to make the population projection on which the "need" for additional land is based. And despite all the dire predictions, McMinnville has continued to grow for 18 years of the almost complete 20-year planning cycle with significantly less land than we were told was necessary in 2003. Even assuming a 2023 population of 44,000 as accurate, that's a need of 4,000 units in 2 years, not 6,000 as stated in the last paragraph.

LGI is marketing their Baker Creek South houses to Beaverton residents because there's not enough current local demand for what LGI is building. According to their website, Lennar builds similar style housing to LGI so who will buy the 280 houses at Baker Creek North?

The decision to address the remand was made because the planning department and the state representative both felt it would be cheaper and easier to get more land through the remand using dated information than to do a new application based on current information. If current data doesn't support expanding the UGB, do we really need more land?

The website name - Growing McMinnville Mindfully - makes it pretty clear the decision has already been made. While the citizen meetings are a nice touch, what is the point if we can't have a DIALOGUE directly with our council members who are the decision makers? There is no opportunity for give and take questioning during testimony at council meetings. That's when it would be most useful. I don't need planning to interpret my citizen comments and discussion points to the council. I need the council to hear them directly.

Jeb Bladine

The city is remanding a sidetracked, 20-year-old UGB plan for state approval. However, that plan was based on 2000-2020 population growth estimates that came in lower over time. The city now wants to extrapolate numbers to change that plan’s timeline to 2003-2023.

Meanwhile, it would help to answer some basic questions:

What was McMinnville’s population in 2000? What is the population in 2020?

What was the actual average annual percentage growth in population between 2000 and 2020?

What is the average annual percentage growth in population estimated for 2020 to 2023?

This plan-remand process may be what the state requires, but it seems likely to generate a lot of confusion along the way.

McMinnville Planning Department

There appears to still be some confusion. The City is currently working on a legal remand for the McMinnville Growth Management and Urbanization Plan, 2003 - 2023, which was adopted by the City of McMinnville in 2003, and then went through a series of legal challenges and appeals.

Since it is a remand, we are held to the legal record that was established, which is planning for a future population forecast of 44,055.

When the City first started this effort in 1994, it started with a planning horizon of 2000 - 2020, and started planning accordingly. However, after that was challenged, the City changed to the McMinnville Growth Management and Urbanization Plan, 2003 - 2023. That is the plan that is currently being addressed in the remand.

The proposed UGB amendment is to accommodate the needed housing, employment opportunities and livability amenities for a final population target of 44,055.

According to the plan documents, the population in McMinnville as of January, 2003, was 28,500. The population in July, 2019, according to the PSU Population Estimates was 33,930.

Jeb Bladine

Thanks, McMinnville Planning Department.

Good to know that conversion to the 2003-2023 timeline was made 20 years ago, and isn’t a new amendment to that old plan. And, we understand that the city decided as a matter of best strategy to seek approval of that old UGB plan before moving further into the future – even though that 2003-2023 plan overstates the now-estimated population for 2023.

It's a quirk of the system, and you have our sympathies for having to continue explaining why the city is seeking state approval of a plan that calculates land use needs based on an inflated 2023 population estimate. It is confusing, since even with 3% annual growth for three years, the population in 2023 would be about 38,000.

However, we've also have heard the reality that we will reach 44,000 at some point. And so, at least we will have planned in advance for land capacities needed to serve that population-to-come.

Here’s hoping the city can get this “old UGB” plan approved, and get on with a new 20-year plan that prepares McMinnville for what could be higher future growth patterns.


It's fun to take a trip down memory lane over the 20 years the UGB remand covers. The 1990s were a period of the largest growth McMinnville has seen. So that's the environment in which the UGB planning started.

Then Hewlett-Packard left. Then we had 9/11. Then a little blip around 2008 that shut McMinnville growth down for a third of the 20-year planning period covered.

Hovee did an economic study back then. Of course, most of the Hovee projections were based on the continued growth of Evergreen Aviation Museum and Cascade Steel as well as Linfield. But I'm sure we should still move forward based on that data.

I do understand that data that is currently accurate has no bearing on the request for more land. I'm thinking about the school district saying that they have no requirements for additional land over the planning cycle beginning in 2023 which indicates limited growth; the impact of covid on the McMinnville economy and its residents; and that we've approved just about 1,000 housing units off of Baker Creek in the last couple of years that don't count in the UGB remand.

Our need for housing is foremost on everyone's mind. That's why an apartment complex and a large house were torn down for a 5 story building that was approved for 2 floors of office space and 3 floors of apartments. Of course, that was too expensive to build so only the office portion was built. No housing was included. We probably should just ignore all the apartments in the Taylor building that were eliminated in favor of vacation rentals. Then there's the affordable First Street mobile home park that was removed in favor of market rate apartments at a significantly lower density than allowed by zoning.

Those are the decisions that are encouraging the resurrection of the UGB remand - without a conversation face to face with our city council.