McMonagle v. City of Ashland

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Municipal Law
  • Date Filed: 07-07-2017
  • Case #: 2017-030
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Opinion by Ryan
  • Full Text Opinion

Ashland Municipal Code 18.6.1.030 requires a corner lot’s one street line to be the front lot line; the narrower street frontage of a lot must be the front lot line except when topographical or access problems make such a designation impractical. Historical site plans and orientation of the existing house cannot be used in making this determination.

The Ashland Planning Department approved an application to site an ARU at the intersection of Alida Street and Blaine Street. Petitioners own and live on the lot located south of the subject lot. The application proposes to site the ARU on the south side of the existing house located on the corner lot, so that it will be located between the existing house on the corner lot and petitioner’s house on the adjacent lot. The planning director approved the applicants’ request to designate the lot line that fronts Alida Street as the “front lot line” of the property. Petitioners subsequently appealed.

On the first assignment of error, petitioner claims the city misconstrued AMC 18.6.1.030’s definition of “Front Lot Line”, and that the city’s conclusion concerning “topographical or access problems,” which require the designation of Alida Street as the front lot line, is not supported by substantial evidence in the record. Respondent claims the topographical problems are the existing house and trees on the property, and identifies the lack of a sidewalk on Blaine Street and the absence of doors on the north side of the existing house as access problems, thus requiring the front lot line to be Alida Street. Finally, respondent supports their findings with the historical treatment of the property.

LUBA agrees with petitioner, determining that the plain language of the statute requires the planning staff to designate a street other than the narrower street frontage as the front lot line only when “topographical or access problems make such designation impractical”. Further, the city cannot rely on the historical treatment of the property. Additionally, respondent fails to explain why the topographical and access problems support the decision. Because the lower decision misconstrued applicable law, OAR 661-010-0071 provides LUBA the authority to remand having sustained the first assignment of error. REMANDED.