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CEC files Measure 37 claim with city


   The city of Madras is considering how to handle its first Measure 37 claim -- filed Dec. 1, just before the two-year deadline for filing a written demand for compensation.
   Although Jefferson County has received 141 claims -- 47 filed after Nov. 1 -- the claim from Central Electric Cooperative Inc. is the first affecting property within the city limits.
   In a seven-page document, CEC is asking for the city to waive "all regulations enacted or enforced by the city of Madras that restrict the use of CEC's transmission line easements to prohibit the upgrade and modification of those transmission lines ..." or compensation of $2.6 million per lineal mile.
   "They want to pre-empt our ability to regulate them," said Chuck McGraw, community development director for the city, noting that the transmission line in question is located just south of Strawberry Heights, on the northern boundary of El Dorado Estates and The Ridge -- two new developments.
   Part of the property has been in the city limits for decades, while the remainder was annexed in 2003.
   City Administrator Mike Morgan explained the situation. "Inside the city limits of Madras, in city ordinances, transmission lines are conditional use. We require new development to bury utilities," he said. "There has been no discussion about burying that line."
   "They didn't want to wait for an application for us to tell them they couldn't do it or put conditions on them," McGraw added.
   Morgan said it is remarkable that the city has had only one claim, and he's not sure how it will be resolved. "It's a public entity filing a claim against another public entity," he said. The law does not specify whether or not one public entity can file against another.
   Ballot Measure 37, passed in November of 2004, gives property owners the right to seek compensation if a public entity enacts or enforces land-use regulations that restrict the use, or reduce the value of property. In lieu of compensation, state or local governments have the right to waive regulations passed after property owners acquired their property.
   The city has 180 days to process the Measure 37 claim.