Our neighborhood got some good news today from the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.
A ruling was issued on the Keep Our Water Safe Committee appeal of Marion County's decision to approve a 43-lot Measure 37 subdivision on groundwater limited, high-value farmland.
LUBA remanded the case back to the county. Meaning, the Board of Commissioners has to deal with an error they made in granting a Measure 37 waiver of land use regulations to the four owners of the property.
Land use law junkies can pour over the first ten pages of LUBA's Final Opinion and Order to learn more than ordinary readers of this blog want to know about waiver ownership issues. Download luba_opinion_31908_laack.pdf
Here's the key thing, for those who have been following the twists and turns of our neighborhood's battle to protect area groundwater from over-development (see many of the posts in this blog's "Measure 37" category).
With the passage of Measure 49 last November, Measure 37 claims like the Laack subdivision are limited to three home sites – not 43, the current development plan. To continue on under what's allowed by Measure 37, a claimant has to be vested.
Meaning, sufficient work has to have been done on the development to justify allowing the project to proceed under the old law.
Here's the legal rub: that development must be pursuant to a valid land use approval.
And LUBA has just ruled that Marion County erred in its approval. So the clock will start over on valid vesting expenditures once the Board of Commissioners fixes the problems with its invalid land use approval.
We and our neighbors wish that LUBA had agreed with every "assignment of error" our attorneys raised in their brief. But we're happy that we prevailed on this important issue.
It already was going to be very difficult for the owners of this property to prove they were vested, given the common law in this area. Now it would be even tougher.
The fight to protect our neighborhood's groundwater isn't over. But today we won an important battle. Stay tuned to this blog for updates.