PRESS RELEASE: Airport expansion faces new legal challenge by cities, farmers, and land use organizations

Aurora, OR: A coalition including the cities of Wilsonville and Aurora filed appeals with the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) over the highly contested Aurora State Airport Master Plan, approved by the Oregon Aviation Department’s (ODA) board in late October. The airport is located outside of an urban growth boundary and wants to expand its runway over prime farmland with protected Exclusive Farm Use zoning to accommodate large luxury corporate jets.  

Friends of French Prairie, represented by 1000 Friends of Oregon, and the City of Wilsonville filed their appeals of the Aurora Airport Master Plan today, the City of Aurora filed November 14, 2019.

What others are saying about the expansion:

"The City of Aurora supports Oregon's land use laws and tries to abide by their spirit. That’s all we’re asking," said Aurora Mayor, Brian Asher.

“The Oregon Department of Aviation’s attempt to skirt the rules of our state’s land use planning program will not go unchallenged,” said Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Working Lands Engagement Coordinator at 1000 Friends of Oregon. “Oregon’s statewide planning goal 3 establishes Exclusive Farm Use zoning to protect our state’s billion-dollar agricultural economy. Yet, the Oregon Department of Aviation continues to provide sub-par evidence to justify trading our agricultural economy for a bigger airport serving luxury corporate jets.” 

“The Oregon Department of Aviation must be operating in a parallel universe—one where Oregon's land use planning program does not apply to them, where urbanizing an area outside of an urban growth boundary, paving over irreplaceable high-value farmland, and forcing farm equipment onto four-lane highways is somehow logical," stated Ben Williams, President of Friends of French Prairie. "The French Prairie agricultural region of Oregon contains some of the best soils in our state and we hope that LUBA acts swiftly to preserve the agricultural economy of this important region by putting this airport expansion nightmare to rest for good.” 

“Your dinner table is supplied by farms like ours,” said Mike Iverson, owner of Aurora Farms, a 200-acre vegetable farm in adjacent to the Aurora State Airport. “We deserve reasonable farmland protections that allow us to predictably use the lands we have invested in — the boondoggle airport expansion is a nontransparent and dangerous threat to Oregon’s agricultural economy and its valued land use planning program.”

“The Charbonneau Country Club applauds the action of the Wilsonville City Council and others to file an appeal to ‘reset’ planning efforts at the Aurora State Airport,” said Wayne Richards, Civic Affairs Chair at the Charbonneau Country Club. “The 3,500 residents of the Charbonneau District of Wilsonville have not had a meaningful voice about the Aurora State Airport planning. This LUBA appeal starts to correct a problem that has festered for years.”

Aurora Airport Inline Graphic

Background information about the Aurora State Airport Expansion:

  • Friends of French Prairie filed a legal challenge to the airport’s 2012 Master Plan in September 2019 based on a letter from the Oregon Department of Aviation’s director Betty Stansbury, claiming that the plan was approved in 2011.  The City of Aurora filed an amicus brief supporting the legal challenge and the City of Wilsonville filed a motion to intervene in support of Friends of French Prairie’s action. ODA meeting notes obtained through public records requests do not back up Director Stansbury’s claim. LUBA has yet to make a decision on this legal challenge. 

  • Director Stansbury’s August 2019 letter claiming that the Aurora Airport Master Plan was approved in either 2011 or 2012

  • Meeting agendas, minutes, and audio obtained through public records requests of Oregon Aviation Board (available to members of the media upon request) fail to confirm that the airport’s Master Plan was approved anytime prior to the October 31, 2019 meeting. 

  • The Oregon State Aviation Board — a Governor-appointed board overseeing the actions of the Oregon Department of Aviation — “reaffirmed” their approval of the Aurora Airport Master Plan, which includes the contested runway expansion at a regular meeting in Sunriver, Oregon on October 31, 2019. Link to agenda and audio file from the meeting.

Press contact: 

Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, 1000 Friends of Oregon Working Lands Engagement Coordinator, 503-497-1000 x 131 |

Additional press contacts available upon request