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County prepares 37 vote

Commission considers adjustments

   The procedure for handling Ballot Measure 37 claims is likely to undergo few changes before the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners votes on whether to approve it on Jan. 26.
   That was the message from the commission to the staff members in charge of drawing up the ordinance at the Jan. 12 meeting of the County Commission.
   "I think we've come to the end, so far as we're concerned," said Commissioner Walt Ponsford at the fifth meeting on the ordinance. "We've done our work, or at least the staff has."
   Ballot Measure 37, passed by Oregon voters on Nov. 2, allows property owners who are affected by land-use regulations to seek compensation, or a waiver of the regulations, in some circumstances, if the rules affect property value.
   "You've really reached out," Madras rancher Mickey Killingsworth, said, congratulating the commission on its numerous public meetings. "You're really working with people. You didn't ask for it; you got caught in the middle."
   According to a fee schedule, the county will charge fees of $250 for a simple waiver claim for an individual dwelling, or $500 for a multiple-unit, more complicated claim.
   Compensation claims will be referred directly to the Circuit Court, since the county "lacks sufficient funds to pay compensation to property owners filing claims under Ballot Measure 37," the proposed ordinance states.
   Chris Gannon, director of the Jefferson County Community Development Department, said that most claims the county receives will also be filed with the state, and it won't necessarily be clear which government should handle the claims.
   Commissioner Bill Bellamy stated that if the state grants a claim, the county should follow suit.
   When the county advises that a claim should be filed with the state, rather than the county, Bellamy suggested that the county get applicants to sign an acknowledgement. "I know two or three people out there who are going to use this process to make a point," he said. "I want them confronted at the beginning."
   When staff determines that a claim is a state claim, Bellamy noted that the county should send a letter saying the county won't be able to process the claim until the state issues a decision.
   County Counsel Jacki Haggerty pointed out that by including that information in the ordinance, rather than just directing staff, the county would have more liability.
   "I want to make sure they don't box us and our staff into a legal quagmire," said Bellamy.
   The commission directed staff to consider a solution.
   The complete ordinance must be available one week before the County Commission approves it.