City limits questioned
A former Madras man, Joel Fuller, whose family owns property on the west side of Madras, is asking the city to recognize the property as within the city limits.
Through extensive research, Fuller, who now lives in Anchorage, Alaska, has traced the history of the property, and believes it rightfully belongs inside the city limits.
Fuller, who appeared before the Madras City Council with his attorney Bruce White of Bend, on Dec. 14, hopes the City Council accepts the property at its next meeting Jan. 11.
"We're requesting that they take some action to do it," Fuller said last week.
The property in question consists of three separate tax lots that adjoin the western border of Madras: one 37-acre parcel located west of the city shops; 18 acres west of N.W. First Street, along C Street; and another 40 acres west of the 18 acres, which includes the hillside on which the letter "M" is located.
"Essentially, these three tax lots were initially within the borders of the city," White noted in his testimony to the City Council. "Both the 1911 and the 1947 charters include these tax lots within the city boundaries."
The boundary issue became clouded in 1951, when then owners Benjamin and Elsa Johnston filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court to have their property removed from the city's boundaries, White explained.
"That litigation resulted in a decree withdrawing the three tax lots from the city," he said. "The city did not respond to the lawsuit, and it was decided by default."
In 1957, Fuller discovered, the Oregon's top court concluded that the lower court had overstepped its bounds. "The Oregon Supreme Court found that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction to deal with city boundaries. It was a violation of the Oregon Home Rule Charter," he said.
"Right now, it's in a no-man's land," Fuller said, adding that the county had agreed with him that it appears to be city property.
White continued, "What we're trying to do is get the city to recognize the pre-1951 Circuit Court decree boundaries. Our position is, if the court had no authority to do what it did, then that judgment needs to be set aside."
Fuller pointed out that the maps put out by the chamber of commerce and the Oregon Department of Transportation both show the property as within the city limits.
City Administrator Mike Morgan said that City Attorney Bob Lovlien is looking into the matter and will report back to the City Council at its next meeting.
"It's first a legal question," he said. "Just because an attorney who advocates for Joel Fuller says it is in the city, doesn't mean that it is. He may be entirely right, or he may not be. The city attorney will make his finding and present it to the City Council."
New and returning councilors will be sworn in at 6 p.m., Jan. 11, and then the council may listen to Lovlien's comments in executive session, which is closed to the public. "Or he may come back and say we can discuss it in regular session," Morgan said.
Either way, he said, the council will make some comments in regular session, which begins at 7 p.m.