Measure 37 claims affect nearly 6,000 acres
Two of the largest Measure 37 claims processed by the county got the go-ahead from the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners at its Sept. 27 meeting.
The two claims, which together total 1,055 acres, bring the county's total acreage affected by Measure 37 claims to nearly 6,000 acres.
Since the statewide ballot measure was passed in November of 2004, the county has granted 64 waivers, which have the potential to create nearly 50 rural subdivisions -- most on land currently zoned for exclusive farm use.
The measure gives longtime property owners the right to seek compensation when government enacts laws that restrict use or reduce the value of their property. Government -- in this case, the county -- has the option of waiving the regulations passed after a property owner acquired property instead of paying compensation, as Jefferson County has done.
The latest claims included five from Gladys Grant, of Madras, totaling 653.45 acres, and one from Jack Alley, of Culver, totaling 401.8 acres.
Grant's largest claim was for 292.57 acres of EFU land located north and east of Northwest Pelton Dam Road, and west of the Willow Creek Canyon rim. She acquired the property on Sept. 18, 1967, when part of it was zoned A-1 Agricultural District, and the remainder was not zoned.
Current real market value of the property is $200,670. She was granted a waiver to divide the property into lots of at least 5 acres each, with a single-family dwelling on each.
Her second largest claim was for 167.88 acres of EFU land located south of Northwest Dogwood Lane in the Willow Creek Canyon. Acquired Sept. 18, 1967, the parcel was in the A-1 Agricultural District, which allowed 1-acre parcels with single-family dwellings.
Value of the property is currently $100,300, and there are no structures. The commission waived regulations to allow her to divide the property into 5- to 20-acre lots, with a single-family residence on each.
Grant acquired a 108.12-acre parcel, located east of Southwest Elk Drive, on May 12, 1969. That property, with a current RMV of $84,120, was also in the A-1 Agricultural District when she acquired it.
Her request for a waiver to divide the property into 1-acre lots for residences was approved.
A fourth claim involved a 64.88-parcel, located at the southwest corner of Ashwood Lane and Northwest Deschutes Drive. It was acquired on Jan. 12, 1962, when there was no zoning in place.
She asked for and was granted a waiver to develop an unspecified number of single family residences on the parcel, currently valued at $43,680.
The final parcel of 20 acres, located at 458 N.W. Deschutes Drive, was also acquired in 1962. Grant entered into a contract to sell it to a couple in 1976, but the property was foreclosed upon in 1983, and she regained ownership. In their report, staff recommended that the commission use the 1983 date as the date of acquisition, since there was a break in ownership.
Grant asked for a waiver to allow her to divide the property into four 5-acre parcels with a single-family residence on each.
Commissioners Mary Zemke and Bill Bellamy voted to approve the five Grant claims, and Chairman Walt Ponsford against the claim, citing the fact that the applications were incomplete.
Breaks in ownership were also an issue when the commission considered a waiver request from Jack Alley, who owns and farms just over 400 acres west of Green Drive, north of King Lane and east of the upper canyon rim.
Alley and two brothers acquired the property, which was not zoned, in 1959. From there, the history becomes more complicated. The brothers deeded their interest over in 1978. In 1989, the property was foreclosed upon, and sold to the Farm Home Administration. The FHA issued a quitclaim deed on Sept. 12, 1994, conveying the property back to Alley.
Just prior to the quitclaim deed, Alley conveyed the property to a couple, and then entered into a contract to reaquire the property from the couple on March 31, 1995. The value of the property is $457,433, with a $46,290 farm building, but Alley estimated it would be worth $40 million if it could be divided into 1- to 10-acre parcels.
Staff recommended that the commission use 1995, when the property was EFU, as the date of acquisition for the claim.
Alley's attorney, Phillip Grillo, of Portland, explained that the transactions were more similar to mortgages than to land sales. "A mortgage is a way of securing debt with real estate," Grillo said.
The attorney told the commission that they can consider the intent of those involved in the transactions. "You're not bound by the evidence of the deed," he said. "You can look beyond the instrument to the intent of the parties."
Bellamy agreed with Grillo. "Jack continued to maintain control; he lived there and he farmed," he said.
"To me, Measure 37 has been satisfied because Jack stayed on the property," said Zemke, suggesting that they allow the state to decide whether or not there was a change of ownership.
"I think I know what the intent of Mr. Alley was," Ponsford said, adding that he feels the commission nevertheless has a responsibility to follow the law. "We don't throw everything to the state."
The commission voted 2-to-1 to approve the waiver, with Ponsford voting against it.
Janice and Wesley Hutson were granted a waiver to divide 9.85 acres they acquired in 1973 into two additional lots, with a dwelling on each. The property is located north of Southwest Jericho Lane, west of U.S. Highway 97.
Ponsford voted against the waiver since the application was incomplete.
Charles Osborn was granted a waiver on 91.35 acres of rangeland on Quaale Drive, which he acquired in 1982. In 1982, the minimum lot size on rangeland was 40 acres.
Zemke and Bellamy voted to allow Osborn to divide the property into two lots with a dwelling in conjunction with farm use on each. Ponsford voted against the waiver, again citing the fact that the application was incomplete.
The commission unanimously approved a waiver application from Verna M. Griffin, who owns 73.25 acres north of Iris Lane, east of Culver.
Griffin acquired the property in 1949, but in 1969, sold it to her children, who sold it back to her in 1985. She retained a life estate on the property, however, through a trust.
The waiver allows her to divide the property into 10 or more parcels ranging in size from one to five acres.
Delores L. Stills was unanimously granted a waiver to divide 122.2 acres, located northwest of Lakeview Drive in the Three Rivers zone, into lots of two or more acres.
Although Stills was not on the original property deed in March of 1969 -- when there was no zoning -- Attorney Ed Fitch said that she purchased it with her late husband. As evidence, he cited easements that list both her name and her husband's.
"Mr. and Mrs. Stills jointly worked the property," Fitch noted. When her husband purchased the property, he added, "It's very clear Mrs. Stills was part and parcel of that transaction."
The commission postponed action until Oct. 11 on a waiver request from Stills on 7 acres in the waterfront zone.