Soon. Soon Metro's esteemed seven-person Council will vote on the urban-rural reserves plan which has been two years in the making. Soon the arduous, long-debated plan for the future of Portland's development will come to a merciful end.

"This is the 169th opportunity to testify," noted President David Bragdon to the crowd at today's vote. Sometimes Portland's long-winded public process is a parody of itself. We've only got a couple more hours until this infinite process is wrapped up (and we can start the appeals!).

In case you're not one of the seven people who follow Metro votes with bated breath, here's the deal on urban-rural reserves: the plan sets out what land three county governments (Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington) can develope over the next 50 years and which land has to stay rural. This is a big deal because it lays out a map for where developers can build in the Portland region and determines whether our cities and suburbs will sprawl.

The future of sprawl, the future of local farmland: important stuff. Look, even GOOD magazine had an article on the urban-rural reserves plan, featuring numerous photos of cute goats. Throw in the fact that land chosen for future urban development can be worth, oh, $94,000 more an acre and we've got some high stakes on our hands.

Updates and more coverage below the cut.

The meeting is packed with people wearing "SAVE FARMS" stickers, showing the conflict environmental groups have about the future urban and rural maps Metro will vote on today. 1000 Friends of Oregon Policy Director Mary Kyle McCurdy says Multnomah and Clackamas Counties used a citizen advisory committee to decide where to draw the development lines, but Washington County had no citizen committee and it wound up laying plans for massive urban reserves that will lead to sprawl. McCurdy pointed to the case of Cornelius. The city is currently about 1200 acres. Under the urban-rural reserves, says McCurdy, it will add 900 acres for future development. With 50 percent more space to develop, "we’ll have sprawling development patterns and a further spreading-too-thin of our current infrastructure values."

Public testimony wrapped up, with plenty of banter between the Metro board and the public hecklers who have come back again and again to put in their two cents on the plan. I liked how architect Rick Potestio summed up the issues, “Despite decades of debate and planning, Portland is and remains the least dense of all the west coast of major population centers. I think the real issue going forward is to determine not where but how to redevelop its land, specifically its land within the UGB [Urban Growth Boundary].”

4:40PM The board approved the Clackamas plan 7-0. Multnomah and Washington county still up for debate.

UPDATE 8:02 AM: Sorry, guys, my computer died. Here's what happened after I stopped blogging: Multnomah County's growth plan passed unanimously, but Washington County's was up for far more debate.

Environmental advocates say Washington County's plan is deeply flawed because some of the urban reserves are slated for "foundation" farmland—agricultural land that the state has designated as the most essential to Oregon's agricultural future.

The council at first split 4-3 on Washington County's plan, with Robert Liberty, Rod Park and Rex Burkholder opposing. But when the group revoted on the plan [edit: the revote was on the package as a whole, not the individual WA plan. Sorry that was unclear.] Burkholder switched sides, making the final vote 5-2. Burkholder is in a tight race for Metro President and his top campaign donors include a $10,000 and $5,000 donation from big local developers John Carroll and John Russell. I can't help but wonder if those donors' watchful eyes swayed Burkholder's vote.