Measure 37 claimants must decide process
- Holly M. Gill
- Madras Pioneer - News
It's decision time for more than 100 Jefferson County residents who received waivers of land-use regulations on their properties under Measure 37.
The state has begun sending out packets to the 6,800 claimants across the state to allow them to proceed with their claims under Measure 49 -- a new state law passed in November of 2007, which replaced the earlier ballot measure, passed in November of 2004.
"Once you receive that notice, the clock starts ticking," County Counsel David Allen told about 60 people who gathered Jan. 23 at the fairgrounds for an informational meeting on Measure 49.
Allen explained that once the State Department of Land Conservation and Development sends out the notice, claimants have 90 days to fill out and return the packet with all the required information.
If they don't act promptly, he said, "After 90 days, you're done."
Under Ballot Measure 37, longtime property owners were given the opportunity to seek a waiver of land-use regulations passed after they acquired their property -- but only if the regulations restricted the use, and reduced the value, of their property.
The county heard at least 136 requests for waivers, affecting nearly 15,000 acres, before the voters passed the more restrictive Measure 49.
Measure 49 gives those holding waivers the right to apply to build up to three homes on their land with a fast-track process, or up to 10 homes -- if the property is not on high-value farmland, forestland, or groundwater-restricted land, and if they can show reduced property value.
Processing all the waiver applications is going to be "a monumental effort by the state," Allen said.
Mike Morrissey, manager for Measure 37 and Measure 49 for the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, said that the state began mailing out applications to claimants on Jan. 18. All applications will be mailed by April 4.
Before the DLCD approves a claim, he said, "We'll be noticing neighbors. They'll have 15 days to comment."
For questions, Morrissey directed claimants to the department's Web site, www.oregon.gov/LCD, or phone number, (503) 373-0050.
"We're going to be staffing up so we can do these claims in a timely fashion," he said.
"It's important that you fill this out correctly," advised Commissioner Bill Bellamy. "We don't want people to casually address this. You can lose your rights if you don't fill it out correctly."
Before filling out the four-page document, claimants need to determine whether they want to seek up to three homes, provide appraisals for the more complicated four- to 10-home conditional process, or try to prove that they were already "vested" under Measure 37.
According to Allen, "Vested is a term that basically means you have availed yourself of a right so that it can't be taken away from you."
Court cases have considered several criteria for vesting, he said, including: the amount of money spent in relation to the total amount of money that would be required to complete the project; whether the property owner acted in good faith; and whether the property owner had notice that the law was changing.
Allen said the county currently has no vesting process.
Steve Rask, who has a county waiver to divide 160 acres into four 40-acre parcels with dwellings, suggested that the commission immediately decide on a vesting process.
"We have to have it and we have to have it now," Rask said. "You've got to take the responsibility; that's your job."
The County Commission will hold a work session Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 10 a.m. to determine a vesting process, followed by a public meeting Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 1:30 p.m., to adopt the process.