June 28, 2012  5:03 PM

Oregon Supreme Court rules in favor of CRC proponents on land use decision

The Oregon Supreme Court handed Columbia River Crossing proponents a victory Thursday, saying Metro's second try at approving the transportation project's land use was legal.

But opponents of the Columbia River Crossing were also declaring victory Thursday, saying the Supreme Court affirmed their main point for appeal.

Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Paul De Muniz said Metro "neither exceeded its authority nor made any decision… that was not supported by substantial evidence in the record.

"The legislature has directed this court to affirm all parts of a land use final order that are not remanded," De Muniz wrote.

That means Metro's land use approval was legal and accepted by the courts.

But, the court said, that doesn't mean that all the decisions necessary for construction have occurred.

"Metro and TriMet concede that further land use decisions… will be necessary for the new I-5 bridges to be constructed," De Muniz wrote. "The land use final order on remand, however, does not find that all land use decisions necessary for construction have occurred, it merely finds that the bridges have land use approval."

"The Supreme Court gave us the main thing we asked for," said Mike Lilly, an attorney for Plaid Pantries, Inc., one of the CRC's main opponents.

Metro initially passed its land use final order in 2011, declaring that the Columbia River Crossing was part of the South-North Light Rail Project and saying it met the standards for land use approval.

CRC opponents appealed Metro's order to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. That board said Metro acted illegally in approving the land use for the CRC in between the north shore of Hayden Island and the Oregon-Washington state line in the Columbia River.

The land use final order can only be used within Metro's urban growth boundary, which ends at the north shore of Hayden Island.

After appeals last winter, the Oregon Supreme Court sent the land use order back to Metro. In April, the Metro Council approved a revised land use order that only extended to the urban growth boundary.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on the 2012 approval on June 1. Four weeks later, the court said the LUFO case was closed.

Metro news editor Nick Christensen can be reached at nick.christensen@oregonmetro.gov or 503-813-7583. Follow Metro on Twitter @oregonmetro.

See also:

Council approves CRC land use order, this time unanimously (April 12, 2012)
Aug. 11 vote would be Metro's final sign-off on Columbia River Crossing (July 15, 2011)

Council approves land use for Columbia River Crossing; delays environmental approval (Aug. 11, 2011)
Metro's Columbia River Crossing review largely upheld; UGB review could be needed (Oct. 27, 2011)
Supreme Court upholds LUBA's review of Columbia River Crossing (Feb. 16, 2012)
Metro sets April 12 hearing date for Columbia River Crossing (April 2, 2012) 

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