Two news items for south Salem’s Spring Lake Estates residents: a cougar has been sighted nearby, and Marion County Planning affirmed the denial of the lot line adjustment that Laurel and I have been fighting on behalf of our neighborhood. and the environment.
On the cougar front: I just got a call from Carolyn Davidson, who heard from her neighbor Jenny Bennett, who was told by some guys painting her house that they saw a cougar roaming the farmland next to Spring Lake Estates. So I agreed to pass on this word to other people in the area, both directly and through the blogosphere.
When I told Laurel about the cougar, her reaction was “Darn! I walked by there yesterday and talked to the painters. I wish I’d seen the cougar.” My reaction to her reaction was that, based on the experience of people who have encountered cougars close-up, it sounds like more fun when you’re in your living room than when you are on a lonely trail.
Still, I hope our neighbors don’t get all excited and try to kill the cougar. The Oregonian had an article recently on urban encounters with wildlife such as coyotes and cougars. If people would use common sense (such as not leaving food outside, and keeping pets in at night), most predator problems would vanish. I don’t mind having a cougar wandering around our neighborhood—this was cougar territory before it was ours—but I admit that I’ll be more vigilant during my evening walks with our dog, Serena.
On the land use front: yesterday Laurel walked in with the mail and I heard an excited, “We won!” The Marion County Hearings Officer agreed with us that Janis Rieder’s application to adjust property lines on a 3.78 acre parcel and a 1.64 acre parcel to create a 4.0 acre parcel and a 1.42 acre parcel didn’t conform to County zoning codes.
This was obvious to us from the beginning, since the minimum lot size for rural residential lots is 2.0 acres. So this was a proposal to take an already non-conforming lot and make it even more non-conforming, which self-evidently was against both state and county law. When I say “self-evidently,” I mean that non-attorneys and non-land use consultants like Laurel and me could read the rules and tell that Ms. Rieder had almost zero chance of succeeding with her application.
So the question is, why did attorney Elizabeth Howard and land use consultant Frank Walker proceed with the appeal? I’d be asking them this question if they had advised me to proceed with a quixotic and expensive action that had such little chance of success. Laurel and I, plus our neighbors, the Tileys, had to expend quite a bit of time and money ourselves to stop what never should have been started, but Ms. Rieder ended up losing the most.
We feel for her, though we certainly are glad that our neighborhood will be spared the extra development that would have been attempted if the lot line adjustment had succeeded. The only people who are assured of winning in situations like this one are the attorneys, land use consultants, and other hired guns who get paid no matter if they win or lose.
The advice we want to pass on to other people thinking about partitioning their property to make more money off on an Earth that already is being strangled by human greed is this: Think carefully about what you might gain or lose; don’t believe everything you’re told by those you consult for advice; get second and third opinions from other professionals.
And most importantly: remember the Golden Rule. If you were living next door to someone who wants to do with their land what you’re planning for your own property, would you be happy about it?