After years of analysis and dozens of land-use meetings, the Metro Council has inched the Portland area's growth boundary outward by less than 1 percent.

Urban growth boundaries separate developed areas from farms and forests in Oregon. But the intense controversy around Portland's boundary was muted this time around.

Even members of the Metro Council who've been in the thick of the hearings and map-making leading up to the urban growth boundary expansion admit that the final decision was, well ...

"Perhaps it's somewhat anti-climactic for those of you who are still sitting before us, but we've been talking about this, and talking about this," said Katherine Harrington.

She was the lead Metro Councilor in a two-year process that created "rural and urban reserves." That process designated hundreds of thousands of acres for either future growth, or long-term protection. Perhaps after that, expanding two-thousand acres might seem underwhelming.

But Harrington might agree with her colleague, Carl Hosticka, that the small expansion was still significant.

"I think we're at sort of watershed moment for the Metro Council," Hosticka said.

This is the first time the council is choosing expansion areas based on where urban reserves are. And, it's the first time councilors' hands weren't tied by Oregon's traditional land-use mandate: that the places to be urbanized are determined by where the lowest quality soils are.

Under the new system, councilors could evaluate transportation infrastructure and how prepared local cities are to extend services.

The Portland area's last major boundary change was nine years ago, when Metro pushed future growth onto the small town of Damascus. That expansion was nearly ten times the size of Metro's latest one. Some activists still argued that Metro didn't need to expand out onto farmland at all.

But local officials pushed the other direction for more urban land.

Tim Knapp is Wilsonville's mayor.

"We currently are experiencing a very high level of commercial and industrial growth, as well as residential growth, and we look forward to making a responsible move to provide for jobs and provide for housing," Knapp said.

Wilsonville got no expansion land. Neither did Forest Grove or Cornelius.

Councilors said their expansion was "conservative," and depends on areas within the boundary developing in a more dense fashion than they have in years past. State law requires Metro to look at the 20-year land supply again, in five years.

On the Web

2011 map

Metro: Unanimous vote makes UGB expansion official