Whew! We looked fine in the picture a Salem Statesman Journal photographer had taken of us yesterday, standing in front of the proposed Measure 37 subdivision adjacent to our neighborhood.
Mostly because the photo that made it into the paper was taken a fair distance from us, unlike the many close-ups that, thankfully, earned a "delete" button press.
The owners are seeking vested rights to continue their 43-lot subdivision.
But attorneys for the neighbors said that the LUBA decision makes earning vested rights difficult.
"It is important to put into context the larger issues for this potential subdivision development," said James Brown, one of the attorneys for the neighbors. "With adoption of Measure 49, there is a process to convert claims to Measure 49 potential uses. You have to establish that you had a lawful land-use approval and that you made expenditures and other factors by Dec. 6. (The LUBA opinion) says they did not have a lawful land-use approval. That will potentially play out if owners seek vesting."
Actually, Leroy Laack and the other owners of the property haven't yet applied for a vested rights determination from Marion County (which basically is an effort to prove that they're "grandfathered in" under Measure 37 and don't have to comply with Measure 49).
I checked with the county this morning and confirmed that no application has been submitted yet. Almost certainly it's coming, though.
I've got a Google News alert for "Measure 37" and "Measure 49," so have been keeping up on newspaper stories about these subjects. The main news since Measure 49 passed last November is now little news there has been.
This is good. It shows that Measure 49 is being implemented smoothly, despite "the sky is falling!" predictions of Oregonians in Action and others opposed to the new law.
A few days ago the Albany Democrat Herald ran one of the rare Measure 49 stories, "Planners deny M49 claim for orchard owner." Charlie Fischer tried to vest his seven-lot Cherry Farm subdivision and failed.
Benton County ruled that the $67,000 he'd put into the project wasn't a large enough percentage of the total project cost under Oregon's vesting common law.
Measure 37 claims aren't transferable, so Fischer would have needed to build homes on each of the seven lots, then sell the homes along with the lots. That meant the total cost of the subdivision would be about $1.76 million, so he'd spent less than 4% of that.
Fortunately for Fischer (who has a wife in a nursing home), Measure 49 allows three home sites on farm land. And building rights on those lots are transferable to the new owners. So he'll be able to sell three lots without expending hundreds of thousands of dollars on home construction.
Measure 49 is a compromise.
It doesn't give many Measure 37 claimants all the development rights they wanted, and it allows more homes on farm, forest, and groundwater limited land than many neighbors wanted.
It helps bring Oregon's land use system into balance – a good thing.