Just as our neighborhood's Keep Our Water Safe committee has been fearing, two Marion County commissioners are thumbing their noses at the 66% of county voters who said "yes" to Measure 49 on November 6 (along with 62% of Oregonians).
The voters said they didn't want large subdivisions to be built on farm, forest, and groundwater limited land. Measure 49 goes into effect on December 6, ten days from now.
But Sam Brentano and Patti Milne have decided to keep on issuing construction permits for large subdivisions on farm, forest, and groundwater limited land right through December 5.
Mind-boggling. Crazy. Disturbing. Senseless.
But that's the modus operandi of the Marion County Board of Commissioners when it comes to Measure 37 developments. Brentano and Milne almost always give a green light to them, even if they have to ignore their own county ordinances and water experts to do so.
Today bulldozers came back on the Laack subdivision property near us. That's because Marion County may approve a Major Construction Permit for road construction soon.
Construction that will be illegal on December 6. But hey, why not allow a developer to tear up irreplaceable Oregon farmland for ten days or so? After all, only two-thirds of Marion County voters said "no way." And what do voters know?
Not much, I guess, according to Brentano and Milne. Because they're willing to let Leroy Laack, Greg Eide, and the other owners play around with their earthmoving equipment until December 6 – when construction has to stop.
It'll have to stop because the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says so.
DEQ recently approved a 1200-C erosion control permit for the site. I submitted a comment on the permit application that got this response from DEQ (see page 4): Download response_to_comments_ridgeview_estates_final.doc
Comment: The permit application is for proposed construction that is now illegal under Measure 49 absent a certification that the Measure 37 claim is vested under Oregon common law. The application should be shelved until Ridgeview Estates is able to certify that their Measure 37 claim has been deemed vested under common law per the requirement of Measure 49.
Response: DEQ received legal direction from the Oregon Department of Justice on Measure 49 and may issue permit coverage to the applicants until December 6, 2007. To continue construction activities beyond this period, the applicants will have to submit a county land use determination that their project is vested under Measure 37 or allowed under Measure 49.
Well, the project is neither.
There's no way the subdivision is vested, according to draft guidance on this subject from the Department of Land Conservation and Development (thanks to the Land Use Watch blog for putting up the DLCD memo).
And the construction sure isn't allowed under Measure 49. Because this property is groundwater limited farmland, only three home sites can be on it. And those have to be clustered on six acres (two acres for each home site) of the least valuable farmland.
Which happens to be on the northeast corner of the property, well away from the central area where the roads are planned.
So any road construction work that takes place between now and December 6 will be wasted according to vesting common law. It's clearly in "bad faith," since the voters of Oregon have approved Measure 49 and any work done after November 6 won't count as a vesting expenditure.
Why issue a construction permit at this late date, then? I can't think of any good reason.
But here's a bad reason: Sam Brentano and Patti Milne want to send a message to the 66% of Marion County voters who said "yes" to Measure 49:
We'll keep on bending over backwards for large Measure 37 subdivisions, even though you voters don't want them built on farm, forest, and groundwater limited land. If you don't like what we're doing, vote us out of office.
Hmmmm. Excellent idea.