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More lawsuits filed regarding Damascus de-annexations

Councilor's wife sues council and more


More lawsuits have been filed regarding citizens’ attempts to leave Damascus.

The city has been sanctioned by the state this year for not submitting a comp plan since it was incorporated in 2004. Sanctions included heavy fines and recent legislation to allow people to de-annex and leave the city.

De-annexation became possible after the Legislature passed House Bill 4029 earlier this year to allow that to happen. The bill was widely viewed as punishment because Damascus has not submitted a comprehensive development plan to the state.

The city of Damascus has denied all de-annexation requests, however, on the grounds that HB 4029 is unconstitutional. The city has also filed suit against the governor, Metro regional government, Clackamas County and everyone who files for de-annexation, about 73 people at this point in time.

Now two more lawsuits have been filed. One lawsuit was filed by Patricia De Young, wife of Damascus City Councilor Jim De Young, against several who have filed for de-annexation, including Lowell Patton, Oregon Lumber Export Company Pension Trust and Deborah Francis, as well as the city of Damascus and Gene Green, Damascus city manager pro tem.

The suit was filed with the Oregon Court of Appeals and is titled “HB 4029 petition for judicial review expedited proceeding.” Neither De Young or her attorney returned calls for comment before deadline.

According to the website www.princeton.edu, judicial review is “the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review, and possible invalidation, by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority, such as the terms of a written constitution.”

In other words, the Court of Appeals is being asked to declare HB 4029 as unconstitutional.

The second lawsuit has the same heading and was filed by Green and the city against Hank and Valerie Brown, the first people to file for de-annexation.

William Cox, attorney for Patton, says he can’t figure out why Patton is named in the suit, except that with 250 acres, he is the biggest landowner in Damascus. He said if the lawsuits succeed, then state land-use plans would have no teeth at all.

“If the Legislature cannot tell Damascus … to knock it off and they (residents) have more rights than you’ve been giving them, if that’s the case, in my professional opinion, there is no land-use law in Oregon,” he said. “Land-use laws would be a paper tiger.”

The lawsuits against all those who want to de-annex is an undue hardship on many Damascus citizens, even though 68 citizens are banding together and have one lawyer to represent them, said Jim Syring of Citizens for De-Annexation from Damascus.

“The citizens don’t know what to make of this unprecedented and arrogant attack on the people,” Syring said. “With the additional lawsuits the City Council has launched, the legal fees of citizens to defend themselves … could be between $50,000 and $100,000 total. The legal expenses will be paid using individual citizens’ and family retirement accounts, savings and college funds and will have a devastating effect on some families.”




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