County holds third hearing on vestings
In its third hearing on "vesting" March 26, the Jefferson County Commission advised an applicant to present a more complete application before it makes a decision April 9.
Lorne Stills, of Culver, who is representing his mother, Delores Stills, in the application, asked the board of commissioners to agree that they have met the requirements to be vested in their 39-lot subdivision.
The twist that sets the case apart from all other Measure 37 vesting claims is that most of the lots are under water.
If the County Commission rules that the Stills are vested, it will allow them to proceed with a use that was lawfully established under Measure 37, which gave property owners the right to develop property as allowed when it was acquired.
Measure 49, passed in November of 2007, had the effect of counteracting Measure 37 waivers -- unless a property owner was vested in the use prior to Dec. 6, 2007, when Measure 49 took effect.
Delores Stills acquired 122 acres of property on Fly Creek, west of the Three Rivers Recreation Area, in 1969. Only 47.2 acres of the property are above water.
"It's unique in Jefferson County; I think it's unique in the state," said County Planning Commission member Bob Powers, of Culver, who recommended that the County Commission approve the application. "This application is as unique as Lake Billy Chinook. There are no comparables."
Powers noted that the Three Rivers organization has written a letter in support of the Stills family's proposal. "The only opposition to this is from the Confederated Tribes, and they pretty much object to anything that goes on on the river," he said.
Representing the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, attorney Ellen Grover of Karnopp Petersen, of Bend, commented, "Measure 49 is about as clear as mud, but I think there are some things we could cross off our list as pretty well understood."
Grover said that Delores Stills bears the burden of proving that she is vested in "the purpose to which you put the land."
"Subdivisions are not uses," she said. "There needs to be some real clarity about what the claimant is saying is the use."
The docks that the Stills are planning are recreational uses, she noted, "not consistent with that waiver."
Estimating that they have spent $35,000, Lorne Stills asked the two commissioners at the meeting -- Bill Bellamy and Mike Ahern -- if they thought he had a chance at becoming vested.
"I think you've met the good faith test in my opinion," said Chairman Bellamy, who advised that the Stills clarify costs and what they plan to do with the property before the commission decides the issue.
The hearing was continued until April 9, at 2 p.m.