Battle Ground slams growth plan - Planners worry about 'sprawl' while citizens express concern about jobs, homes

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
By ERIN MIDDLEWOOD, Columbian staff writer

In what they expect to be the last hearing before they adopt a 20-year growth plan next week, Clark County commissioners on Tuesday took a beating from Battle Ground officials, developers and others who argue that proposed urban areas should be bigger.

Last week, Commissioners Judie Stanton and Craig Pridemore, overruling Commissioner Betty Sue Morris, redrew the draft growth map, trimming proposed expansion of urban areas to 8.3 square miles. Planners estimate that scaling back earlier proposals would save $276 million on roads, schools and other infrastructure over 20 years.

The commissioners' biggest cuts were from Battle Ground's urban area, confounding that city's ambitions to stretch its growth boundary to reach north toward the East Fork of the Lewis River, west to Cherry Grove and south to Meadow Glade.

Battle Ground Mayor John Idsinga angrily accused Stanton and Pridemore of "painting a bleak picture of our community" in questioning the city's ability to handle the growth it seeks.

"This is poor planning in an 11th-hour decision," he said. "Your task under (the Growth Management Act) is to plan for the future. I believe you have failed miserably."

Idsinga estimates the Battle Ground urban area lost 8,000 residents and 4,500 jobs from earlier proposals.

Stanton and Pridemore have chastised Battle Ground officials for missing deadlines for submitting plans for roads and other infrastructure. The city has yet to finish a cost analysis of the roads that would be needed to support the expanded boundary.

"What we didn't have from Battle Ground ---- and still don't have ---- is all the facts," Stanton said.

Idsinga argued that commissioners made such frequent changes to the proposed growth map that the city was chasing a moving target. Stanton countered that the city had plenty of time, and should have provided solid arguments for its proposal in the first place.

"If the city is proposing a new urban growth boundary, then the city ought to ... prove up," Stanton said.

Idsinga said people will continue to move to Battle Ground, which grew 13.2 percent last year to 14,220 people. But with constricted urban areas, the newcomers will spill over into unbuilt lots in rural areas, creating sprawl, he argued.

"I think it's a disaster waiting to happen," Idsinga said.

"Growth will occur whether you want it or not unless you put a dome and a fence around Clark County," agreed Terri Tweedell, director of the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce. "We can handle the additional urban growth. We need the additional jobs."

Stanton restated her worry that Battle Ground's ambitious plans for expansion would burden schools, as well as county and state roads.

"Growth patterns impact a lot of different jurisdictions," Stanton said.

The Battle Ground School District, for one, was glad to see the proposed Battle Ground urban growth boundary shrink, said Carra Sahler, the district's attorney.

State Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, came to Battle Ground's defense. He disputed estimates of cost savings, and called the planning process "very disingenuous."

"People put a stake in the ground, creating expectations," he said.

Stanton bristled at Zarelli's accusation that the county "cut" Battle Ground's urban area.

"The question we have in front of us is what we'll add," she said. "What I'm trying to find is fiscally responsible growth."

Zarelli asked commissioners to give Battle Ground two more weeks to deliver its road analysis before making their decision.

"I don't see the point in playing around with people anymore," Pridemore said.

"I think it's too late in the process," Stanton said. "We could keep doing this forever and ever."

Erin Middlewood covers Clark County government and transportation. Reach her at 360-759-8031, or by e-mail at


Previously: Commissioners Judie Stanton and Craig Pridemore last week overruled Commissioner Betty Sue Morris and agreed to lop off much of the proposed urban expansion of Battle Ground's and Vancouver's urban areas.

What's new: Property owners, builders, developers and Battle Ground officials on Tuesday railed against county commissioners' revisions to a proposed 20-year growth map.

What's next: Clark County commissioners hope to formally adopt the 20-year growth plan during a meeting that begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St.



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