March 18, 2021 The mayors of the two cities in closest proximity to the Aurora State Airport are jointly requesting that a transportation committee of the Oregon legislature conducts a hearing on a pending bill that provides a roadmap forward to resolve a decade of public controversies over the airport. Proposed House Bill 2497 is a “process bill” that creates an open, transparent public process for state aviation agency communications and planning coordination with local communities on Aurora State Airport issues of concern, but does not dictate predetermined results for the airport.
Aurora Mayor Brian Asher and Wilsonville Mayor Julie Fitzgerald jointly wrote on March 17 to the Joint Transportation Committee care of the Co-Chairs Senator Lee Beyer and Representative Susan McLain. The mayors’ letter asks for a public hearing on the proposed legislation introduced by Representative Courtney Neron (HD-26) at the request of the Aurora and Wilsonville City Councils.
In their letter to Senator Beyer and Representative McLain, Mayors Asher and Fitzgerald recite a litany of significant issues of public concern spanning 10 years pertaining to the Oregon Department of Aviation (ODA) and the agency’s uncooperative attitude towards local governments and alleged mishandling of the controversial 2012 Aurora State Airport Master Plan.
Mayors Asher and Fitzgerald write that they “are alarmed by the agency’s airport-expansion efforts to promote increasingly urbanized levels of activity in unincorporated county territory of high-value EFU farmland without engaging meaningful public input and without supporting public infrastructure — all contrary to Oregon Goals for citizen-involvement and land-use planning.”
HB 2497 would establish formal channels of intergovernmental communication and planning coordination between the state aviation agency and directly impacted local governments, which they contend has been sorely lacking over the past 10 years. Specifically, the bill calls for an intergovernmental agreement on collaborative communications and coordinated land-use and transportation planning between ODA and Clackamas and Marion Counties and the Cities of Aurora and Wilsonville.
HB 2497 also provides for updating the contentious 2012 Aurora State Airport Master Plan that has been the subject of significant community concern and litigation, conducting a much-needed environmental assessment of current airport pollution levels, and planning for eventual annexation of the airport by the City of Aurora to provide municipal governance and urban services.
The cities assert that ODA circumvented Oregon public-process laws regarding the purported adoption of the 2012 Aurora State Airport Master Plan, and that the agency has ignored significant issues of public concern in seeking to expand the airport.
The mayors’ letter cites a 2018 Portland State University Oregon Solutions’ study of ODA and the master plan commissioned by the legislature in 2018 that found a host of agency management troubles, improper influence and poor public engagement and communications problems regarding ODA’s operations and planning at the Aurora State Airport.
The cities also point to a 2010 ODA intergovernmental agreement on airport planning that excluded Clackamas County and Wilsonville based on “gerrymandered” 10,000-foot Aurora Airport Impact Area map. The cities also allege that the 2012 Aurora State Airport Master Plan was not legally adopted and contravenes Oregon public-process and land-use laws.
Passage of HB 2497 would provide legislative direction to ODA in an effort to improve agency public communications and coordinated planning with local impacted communities for significant issues of concern pertaining to the Aurora State Airport and master-planning efforts.
- Joint Aurora-Wilsonville Mayors Letter to Joint Transportation Committee Requesting Public Hearing on HB 2497, March 17, 2021
- About HB 2497 – Cities Seek Legislature’s Help to Resolve 10-Year-Long Conflict with Aviation Agency over Aurora State Airport; Proposed 2021 Legislation HB 2497 Creates Transparent Public Process for Oregon Department of Aviation Agency Communications and Coordination with Local Governments and Communities on Aurora State Airport Master Planning, March 17, 2021
- Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS): HB 2497, “Relating to the Aurora State Airport,” 2021
- PSU Oregon Solutions, Aurora State Airport Assessment Report, Dec. 2018
- Wilsonville Mayor Letter to Legislators to Correct Record of Sept. 26 E‐Board Meeting and Provide Information on Long‐Running Public Controversy over Aurora State Airport Expansion, Oct. 2018
- ODA 2012 Aurora State Airport Master Plan
Source: City of WIlsonville Email Update. 3.18.21