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County eases land-use restrictions

The board approves comprehensive changes to its zoning ordinances, including three controversial sections that will allow more homes to be built in exclusive farm-use zones

   Jan. 30, 2002 -- The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners ended a nearly two-year revision process of the county's zoning ordinances last Wednesday by adopting changes that include three controversial resource-land sections that will allow more homes to be built in areas exclusively reserved for agricultural use.
   The commission approved the changes in five parts, separating the forest zone and three exclusive farm-use zones from the other 10 articles so that an appeal would not delay implementation of changes to other zones.
   The revisions allow some property owners previously prohibited from constructing homes on their parcels to do so as long as they meet certain criteria in two exclusive farm-use zones, EFU-A1 and EFU-A2, plus the county's rangeland zone, EFU-RL.
   In the EFU-A1 zone, a Lot of Record has been added to the list of conditional permitted uses. It is defined as a single-family dwelling that may be established on a parcel lawfully created prior to Jan. 1, 1985. Only individuals who have owned the parcels since before land-use laws took effect, or inherited them afterward, are permitted to build homes on them. In this zone, a Lot of Record must be a minimum of 15,000 square feet.
   In the EFU-A1 zone, a Dwelling Not in Conjunction with Farm Use can be constructed. It is limited to existing parcels created prior to Jan. 1, 1993, and must be at least 5 acres in size. However, the commissioners added a clause that allows property owners to build homes on parcels created after 1993 as long as they are at least 80 acres in size.
   In the EFU-RL zone, both a Lot of Record and Dwelling Not in Conjunction with Farm Use have been added as conditional permitted uses. A Lot of Record in this zone must be at least 20 acres and a Dwelling not in Conjunction with Farm Use must be at least 40 acres on a parcel created prior to Jan. 1, 1993.
   The commissioners did not vote in unison. While Mike Ahern voted "yes" on all three exclusive farm-use zones, Janet Brown, as expected, voted "no" on the EFU-A1 and EFU-RL changes. Commissioner Bill Bellamy voted "yes" on the EFU-A1 and EFU-RL zones, but declared a potential conflict of interest regarding the EFU-A2 zone and abstained.
   The board of commissioners' decision can be appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.