Just as we suspected when D8 Caterpillars started bulldozing on a nearby Measure 37 claim, the road construction work that started Monday and went on for most of the week was illegal.
Marion County shut it down yesterday, issuing a stop work order. But not before quite a bit of un-permitted road building took place on high-value Oregon farmland.
Why would the Measure 37 claimants – Leroy L. and Jean R. Laack, M. Duane Rawlins, Greg M. Eide, Andrew A. and Margaret Rainone – move ahead on subdivision road construction without a permit?
Why would North Santiam Paving agree to build an illegal road for them?
Why would Marion County Public Works be on the verge of allowing the construction to continue without a permit?
These are questions that we and our neighbors don't have answers to yet.
We do know that work on the site stopped yesterday afternoon, thanks in no small part to Janet Carlson, chair of the Marion County Board of Commissioners. About 4:00 pm I got a call from one of her staff, saying that Laack had agreed to cease the illegal construction.
Thursday I'd contacted Commissioner Carlson, telling her that the final order approving the subdivision (which is being appealed) says "A Major Construction Permit is required before construction of roadway and drainage improvements may commence."
A Public Works manager, Bill Worcester, already was looking into the un-permitted work, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to let Commissioner Carlson know that the Board's final order was being ignored.
What's perplexing is that I'd been told that a Public Works attorney had advised that a deal could be worked out with North Santiam Paving where they'd complete the subdivision roads without a permit, then have them inspected by the county after the fact.
Weird. You'd think that the first thing the attorney would have done was read the final order. Instead, I was the one who pointed out to Public Works what Laack and his co-Measure 37 claimants were required to do.
Thankfully, last time I looked the bulldozers were motionless and lined up neatly.
The minds of us and many neighbors are still working, however, trying to fathom why someone would purposely ignore Marion County rules and start road construction without a permit.
What this shows is the desperation of a Measure 37 claimant who's afraid that Measure 49 will pass November 6, in which case he'll be limited to three home sites (because the subdivision is on groundwater limited farmland) – rather than the 43 he wants to have.
Rushing to construction, in this case illegally, was an obvious likely side effect of referring Measure 49 to the voters rather than passing it directly. I warned about this back in June. And now it's come to pass.
To no avail for the Measure 37 claimants. County staff have told me that construction work occurring without a permit almost certainly wouldn't qualify as a "vesting" expenditure.
Well, if nothing else this shows that Measure 49 is right on target (these signs are right across from the subdivision).
Allowing "Ma and Pa" to build a few homes on long-held property, fine. Preventing would-be subdivision developers from trashing irreplaceable Oregon farm, forest, and groundwater limited land, not fine.
Especially when they ignore the rules and start their Measure 37 construction without a permit.[Monday update: Astoundingly, I've been told that Marion County hasn't actually issued a stop work order, though the Measure 37 claimant has agreed to cease construction temporarily. It's amazing that the county is unwilling to enforce its own final order and seems to be bending over backwards to allow illegal road construction. Hopefully wiser minds will prevail soon and the claimant will be required to go through the normal application process for a Major Construction Permit.]