Measure 49: Where are we now?

Passage of the land-use measure may leave some landowners and developers more confused than ever

   Oregon voters recently passed Measure 49, a modification to Measure 37, in hopes of limiting development on farm and forest land and streamlining the development process for Measure 37 claimants.
   Now, however, landowners seem more confused than ever about what will happen to their Measure 37 claims and are wondering if they will be able to develop as planned. In Crook County, the measure passed by only 52 percent.
   Currently, it is not known exactly how Measure 37 claims will be affected, and they are being handled on a case-by-case basis. Measure 49 attempts to lump claimants into two broad categories: those who have filed claims and those who have a claim, but have not yet filed. These categories are narrowed down into three classes based mainly upon how far they have progressed in the Measure 37 process, which will determine whether they have vested rights.
   According to Bill Zelenka, director of the Crook County Planning Department, the most confusion in the coming months will be from landowners who have already started developing under Measure 37 and will need a vested right to continue, which must be approved by the county. A vested right allows a landowner to complete a development that is already under way when regulations would otherwise prohibit it.
   This is the case with Prineville resident Shelley Hudspeth, who plans to subdivide a 296-acre parcel of land into 59 five-acre parcels and develop a dwelling on each.
   "We're waiting to be vested," she said.
    Zelenka said that claimants like Hudspeth are asking to be vested by the county because under the current regulations, they can't continue.
   "They rush through to try do get enough done, because on the effective date of Measure 49, if you were vested, you can continue. If you weren't vested, you're basically out of luck," he said.
   To even be considered for vesting, the measure clearly states that the development must be for residential purposes, and commercial or industrial developments will not even be considered.
   Those who are not vested will have to settle for the "fast track" option proposed by Measure 49, which allows for three SFDs (Single Family Dwellings) to be developed.
   Claimants can also make a case for four-10 SFDs, but Zelenka contends that this is more costly and difficult to prove.
   The State of Oregon is currently in the process of sending out letters to all Measure 37 claimants that explain what the rules are now and giving them the options, Zelenka said.
   They will be given 90 days to respond, and if they choose the "fast track" option of developing three sites, then they will get a certificate from the state saying they can develop. This will then be processed by the county, which will generate a land use approval based on that waiver.
   The city, on the other hand, could receive Measure 49 claims based upon upcoming code changes that may affect development, according to Senior Planner Scott Edelman.
   "They could potentially file a Measure 49 claim demonstrating that they lost property value," he said.