Land Use Law Alert: Oregon Legislature Passes Fast-Track Industrial Permitting Bill

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Yesterday the Oregon Legislature sent SB 766 to Governor Kitzhaber. With his signature expected in the near future, Oregon will soon have two new expedited review processes for permitting industrial projects of state and regional significance.

Industrial Development Projects of State Significance

A new Economic Recovery Review Council will have authority to approve local and state permits necessary to construct up to 10 industrial development projects of state significance each biennium. The Council will be comprised of the directors of five state agencies (Oregon Business Development Department, Department of Land Conservation and Development, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Quality, and Department of State Lands) and an elected official of the city or county with jurisdiction over the project site (if the local government so desires).

To qualify as a project of state significance, six criteria must be satisfied, including obtaining a resolution of community support from the city or county in which the project would be built. Projects that would require an exception to a statewide planning goal, any changes to local land use plans and regulations, or the issuance of an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) are ineligible.

Following a public hearing, the Council will issue a project certificate if it finds that applicable local or state standards and criteria are satisfied. The local government and state agencies must then issue the permits covered by the project certificate. The Council must complete its review of complete applications within 120 days, and the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) has no jurisdiction over the permitting of these projects. Instead, appeals of Council decisions are taken directly to the Court of Appeals.

This process sunsets after Oregon's average unemployment rate for the calendar year falls below six percent.

Industrial Uses in Designated Regionally Significant Industrial Areas

Within three years after Governor Kitzhaber signs SB 766, the Council must designate between five and 15 regionally significant industrial areas. Local governments must then protect these areas' future employment potential. Land along the Willamette River north of the Fremont Bridge in Portland cannot be designated a regionally significant industrial area.

Applicants proposing new industrial uses and expansions of existing industrial uses in these designated areas can request that local governments review their land use applications under an expedited process. Again, projects that would require an exception to a statewide planning goal, any changes to local land use plans and regulations, or the issuance of an environmental impact statement under NEPA are ineligible.

The local government cannot hold a public hearing and must make its decision within 63 days after receiving a complete application. Any appeals are heard by a referee appointed by the local government, and the referee must issue its decision within 56 days after the filing of the appeal. Judicial review of the referee's decision would be undertaken by the Court of Appeals rather than LUBA.

This expedited review process sunsets for each regionally significant industrial area if (i) 50% of its developable land is not developed within 10 years of designation and (ii) owners of at least 50% of the land within that area do not request that the designation continue.

For more information regarding how SB 766's fast-track processes could be used for your industrial development projects, please contact a key contributor.

Key Contributors

Sarah Stauffer Curtiss
Eric L. Martin
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