Everyone in Oregon who voted for Measure 49, give yourself a pat on the back. (Or wherever else you choose.)
Without you a judge wouldn't have ruled Thursday that a planned 41-home subdivision in Clackamas County can't proceed – being subject to the three home limit Measure 49 places on development in a groundwater limited area.
Which Pete's Mountain is. In an Oregonian story, "Measure 49 stops Clackamas County subdivision," a neighbor expressed his concern.
"I can live without electricity, but I can't live without water," said Dave Krevanko, who lives across the street from the development. Putting in a new, deeper well, he said, would cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Water wasn't the reason the subdivision was stopped, though. Judge Alexander found that the Measure 37 claimants (Cecille and W. Leigh Campbell, and co-owner Don Bowerman) hadn't spent enough on the development to be vested – which basically means "grandfathered in."
As noted in my "Pete's Mountain vesting case goes to court" post, the property owners weren't including the expense of building 41 homes when they calculated what proportion of the total project cost had been incurred prior to the passage of Measure 49.
Judge Alexander correctly included that large expense, because building rights for lots in a Measure 37 can't be transferred to new owners. So the Campbell's and Bowerman would have had to construct the homes themselves.
Another newspaper story, "New vesting decision casts local shadow," notes that the Pete's Mountain case bodes well for opponents of another large subdivision in Yamhill County.
As land-use activists prepare to mount a legal challenge to the high-profile Abrams subdivision west of McMinnville, they're hailing a case out of Clackamas County that they say has major implications for all subdivision projects proceeding in spite of Measure 49.
Todd Sadlo is a McMinnville attorney who served as the hearings officer for Yamhill County. He said that the Abrams subdivision was vested, ignoring the case law that Judge Alexander cited in his ruling.
You'd think that Sadlo would be open to considering Alexander's arguments, given that he's a district court judge and Sadlo isn't, but apparently not.
Sadlo said he had read the decision, and said it didn't overly concern him. "These cases really don't have any value as precedent," he said. "They really don't have anything to do with me."
Narrowly true in a legal sense, because a district court decision isn't binding in other Oregon districts. But if the Pete's Mountain decision is upheld by the Court of Appeals, Sadlo will be forced to change his tune.