Clackamas County’s board has recently moved towards its new prime directive of once and for all remedying the tumultuous Stafford Dispute which has lingered now for more than 4 years.

Three years ago the Stafford area, a 6,230-acre unincorporated grouping of properties that resides West of West Linn, South of Lake Oswego, and East of Tualatin was the subject of heated debate when Metro was weighing in on which unincorporated areas to bring in to the Urban Growth Boundary. Metro did not want the area brought in, but Clackamas County did. The issue, which was struggling toward a resolution was then taken to the Oregon Court of Appeals, which said that Metro and Clackamas County had to submit additional justification as to why or why not the Stafford area should be brought into the urban reserve before it made its decision.

At the time there was only one member on the board who felt that Stafford should be included, Jim Bernard. Seeing as he was out numbered at the time the Stafford area fell by the wayside, pending the justification, until three other unincorporated areas were included first. Now that Jim has unseated John Ludlow as Council Chairman he’s promised to see the Stafford Dispute resolved in his first 100 days in office. The fact that he used this issue largely as his running rhetoric, it speaks to how tired people on both sides are of being stuck in limbo.

However, it will take more than strong words and promises to get this issue resolved. Not only do you have the complexity of finding a solution to appease both the County and Metro, but it still leaves the area largely divided with some residents in favor of intensive development, others seeking to keep the area rural, and even cities saying that the cost to bring infrastructure to the hilled areas would be too great. Newly appointed councilman and pro Stafford resolution, Ken Humberston said that he is seeking a way to address all of these issues while also working with Metro in hopes of getting an understanding of a comprise that might work.

“Metro has no intention of reopening the whole reserve question,” he said.

“One of the things we have to recognize is that we are not going to solve the whole problem by eating the whole apple at one time. It’s got to be an incremental solution, step by step.”

“But what I am not willing to do is stay in purgatory. What I hope is to put something on the table that we can all make work.”

The Commissioners voted on Jan. 17, 2017, a vote of 3-1 to direct the county staff to settle with Metro Council; a large step in the direction toward getting this resolved. Only time will tell if Jim and Ken can help to lead the charge to strike a comprise and finally put the Stafford Dispute to rest.

March 19, 2017 will mark the 100th day of Jim’s promise.