Measure 49 may invalidate waivers
As a young married couple in 1961, Jim and Darla Waldorf, of Madras, purchased a 56-acre property off Bear Drive, intending to eventually subdivide the property and sell one- to five-acre parcels for rural homesites.
Even though it is now zoned for exclusive farm use, "We knew right away it was not good farm land," said Darla Waldorf, "but we liked it."
Statewide land-use planning, enacted in the 1970s, put their plans on hold until voters passed Measure 37 in 2004, to allow property owners to seek waivers from regulations passed after property was purchased.
The Waldorfs got a Measure 37 waiver from the county in 2005, to finally allow them to realize their longtime dream, but before they could get started, in November voters passed Measure 49, which basically prevents large subdivisions.
Last week, the Waldorfs asked the Jefferson County Planning Commission to uphold a staff decision to allow them to subdivide their property into 44 lots.
Developer Bill Hoffman and his wife Darlene, who also obtained a waiver to allow a 60-lot subdivision on 187 acres of exclusive farm use land on Northwest Fir Lane, had the same request.
Advising the planning commission, Jefferson County Counsel Dave Allen suggested that the best decision would be "denial of the application, based on Measure 49."
Jon Jinings, regional representative of the Department of Land Conservation and Development, echoed Allen's advice. "We agree that the effect of Measure 49 was to invalidate waivers issued under Measure 37," he said. "We think the staff got it right."
The Waldorfs' application had been appealed by Mickey Killingsworth, who was not able to attend the hearing, while the Hoffmans' was appealed by Central Oregon Landwatch and Jerold Ramsey and Friends.
"Living and farming where we do," said Ramsey, "we strongly oppose Mr. Hoffman's intention to impose what would be, essentially, a village in the middle of lands that have been intensively farmed for many years."
Pam Harding, attorney for Central Oregon Landwatch, said that even if Hoffman had obtained a building permit, judges have ruled that "issuance of a building permit does not create a vested right" -- necessary to continue with a subdivision under Measure 49.
The Hoffmans' attorney, Ed Fitch, disagreed, noting, "We believe this application is vested." However, he added, whichever way the commission votes, "We anticipate that this decision will end up at LUBA (Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals)."
The planning commission decided to leave the record open for a week on both, and deliberate on the two appeals on Jan. 24, at 5:30 p.m.