Nicita v. City of Oregon City

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Land Use
  • Date Filed: 08-15-2016
  • Case #: 2016-047
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Opinion by Holstun
  • Full Text Opinion

Pursuant to ORS 197.829(1), the Land Use Board of Appeals should defer to a local government’s interpretation of its own comprehensive planning goals.

James Nicita (petitioner) appealed an ordinance that approved comprehensive plan and zoning map amendments, as well as a revised Master Plan to allow construction of a medical office building and parking lot.

Petitioner first argued that the ordinance was inconsistent with multiple Oregon City Comprehensive Plan (OCCP) Goals and Policies. OCCP Goal 2.4 seeks to protect and maintain neighborhoods as the “basic unit of community life.” Specifically, the petitioner argued that the removal of five homes on the property would damage the neighborhood. The zoning of this land is Mixed Use Employment (MUE) that allows for medical office buildings (MOBs). The city commission adopted findings that the transition from single-family dwellings to MOBs would allow the site to comply with uses permitted within the MUE zone. LUBA deemed that the city commission’s interpretation was “well within the deference it must be given” under 197.829(1) and Siporen v. City of Medford, 349 Or 247 (2010).

LUBA denied the petitioner’s argument that the MOB qualified as a hospital structure, finding neither the OCCP nor the Oregon City Municipal Code defined “hospital” or “hospital structure,” deeming the argument undeveloped. The petitioner also argued that OCCP 10.1 encourages diverse housing opportunities and this development would not preserve those homes. LUBA determined that the city’s findings were adequate to explain why it concluded the proposal did not violate OCCP Goal 10.1.

The petitioner further contended that Department of Environmental Quality approval would be necessary due to the need for a storm water drainage system, and there was no evidence that approval would occur or that the proposal could ever comply with Goal 6’s requirements that it not violate environmental standards. LUBA agreed with the intervenor, determining that the city’s adopted findings addressing Goal 6 were adequate. AFFIRMED.