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County adopts Measure 37 claim procedure


   At a seventh and final meeting on Jefferson County's proposed ordinance for handling Measure 37 claims, Feb. 2, the board of commissioners unanimously passed the ordinance.
   The ordinance outlines the way in which county residents may submit claims resulting from the passage of Ballot Measure 37 in the Nov. 2, 2004, general election.
   Measure 37 creates "a process for landowners to seek payment when government enforces land-use regulations that decrease the fair market value of the land," according to congress.org. "State or local government would pay the owner the amount that the fair market value of the property was reduced or would modify, change, or not apply the regulation to the owner's property. The measure provides no revenue to pay claims."
   No one spoke at the final public hearing, and the commission closed the hearing and approved the ordinance.
   "I continue to be very pleased with our process," said Commissioner Bill Bellamy. "We've included a lot of public comment; we've included a lot of discussion. I appreciate the staff time that's gone into it."
   Sandy Mathewson, senior planner for the county, said that the county has received several letters from county residents who say they intend to file a claim.
   A couple of those will be asking to build single-family residences, one is asking for a zone change from residential to commercial-industrial, and several have indicated that they would like compensation.
   In previous meetings, County Counsel Jacki Haggerty stressed that since the county has no money for paying claims, it will only accept applications to waive county regulations. Those who want compensation will have to take their claims to the Circuit Court.
   The commission approved a filing fee of $250 for a simple waiver claim for a single dwelling, or $500 for a more complex waiver claim involving more than one unit. Property owners can pay $100, which will be applied to later claim fees, to have their case reviewed by county staff.
   "The county has 180 days to act on a claim," said Mathewson. "After 180 days, these people can go to the Circuit Court."
   The county is still finalizing the claim forms, Mathewson said, but a copy of the ordinance is available at the Community Development Department, 85 S.E. D St., or the Commissioners' Office, 66 S.E. D St.