Independence passes Measure 37 ordinance

Law helps city cope with ballot measure

INDEPENDENCE -- City leaders passed an ordinance last week that outlines how Measure 37 claims in Independence will be processed.

The controversial land-use statute officially goes into effect Thursday, Dec. 2.

The law will require governments to reimburse property owners who can prove that imposed regulations have negatively impacted the fair market value of their land.

Governments will also have the option of waiving or modifying their own zoning or other restrictions in lieu of payment. The law allows 180 days to resolve the matter before a claimant can file a suit.

A few of the city council members present at last week's meeting made no effort to hide their disdain or unease for the measure because of the possible financial and planning implications it could have on communities and the state.

"The fact is it's a stupid law," Councilor Bob Archer said. "But we'll still have to take the proper steps and follow the rules."

Independence's process follows closely a model ordinance drafted by the League of Oregon Cities earlier this month. Among the requirements to file a Measure 37 claim, individuals must provide:

♦ The name, addresses and telephone numbers of all owners, and anyone with interest in the property, including lien holders, trustees and renters. They must also submit a description of ownership interest for each.

♦ The address, tax lot, and legal description of the real property that is the subject of the claim, along with documentation that shows ownership and purchase date.

The amount of the claim, based on the alleged reduction in real property value, supported by a licensed and state-approved appraiser.

♦ A certified list of all current property owners within 300 feet of the claimant's property.

Claims will be declared valid, denied or be investigated further by the city manager, who will forward a recommendation to the council.

Before taking action, the council will hold public hearing to give adjacent homeowners, neighbors and others the opportunity for comment.

Rich Rodeman, legal counsel for Independence, said the council could exercise one of two options based on that public input:

Paying compensation to the property owner and preventing an unwanted development or returning the regulations to whatever they originally were when the person first purchased the land.

"Neighbors can say thanks to the city for protecting their property rights," Rodeman said, "or we can say thanks to them for participating in the process, then waive the application of zoning ordinances because we don't have $100,000 to pay."

Individuals will be required to reimburse the city -- following final action on the matter -- for processing a claim, including staff and legal costs.

Rodeman said the neighbors of a claimant who plans to develop on his property under the original restrictions are not without rights.

For example, a person living in a subdivision can take a claimant to court under nuisance law if the claimant is developing land for heavy industrial use that would impact adjacent homeowners.

Independence has not received any claims. Rodeman said he believes within the city, cases were more likely to involve wetland or natural areas than residential neighborhoods.

Mayor John McArdle said the county would probably see a bigger impact than individual towns. He added there could, however, still be challenges for local services such as law enforcement if an emergency occurs just outside the city limits.

"The county sheriff is hard pressed to provide the services they already do, and there may be a dilemma where somebody calls and says, 'I need a cop,'" he said. "Our officers may have to go by a case-by-case basis."


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