Central Oregon Landwatch v. Crook County

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Land Use
  • Date Filed: 12-18-2017
  • Case #: 2013-005/006/007
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Opinion by Holstun
  • Full Text Opinion

Under OAR 660-023-0040(4), programs implemented to protect Goal 5 resources must be supported by an economic, social, environmental and energy (ESEE) analysis of the consequences that would result from allowing, limiting, or prohibiting conflicting uses. The ESEE analysis must contain justifications that support such a policy change.

Petitioners appeal Ordinance 259, adopted by Crook County, which creates amendments to the county’s acknowledged Statewide Planning Goal 5 to protect big game habitat. Ordinance 259 has the collective effect of increasing the permissible residential density on inventoried big game habitat. Under the second assignment of error, petitioners point to the fact that OAR 660-023-0040(4) “requires that programs [implemented] to protect Goal 5 resources such as big game habitat must be supported by an economic, social, environmental and energy (ESEE) analysis of consequences that would result from allowing, limiting, or prohibiting conflicting uses (such as rural dwellings), with regard to inventoried Goal 5 resources (such as big game habitat).” However, petitioners contend that despite the county’s recognition of the importance of big game winter range, the county failed to provide justification for significantly increasing the permissible residential density within the big game range.

Within the county’s ESEE analysis, the county rationalized that since there is already a greater residential density in the West County area, a further increase in the residential density in the West County area is justified because the increase would be accompanied by a shift in emphasis to, with additional protection for, big game habitat in the Greater County Area. However, LUBA found that the county’s rationale on this issue was flawed, and agreed with petitioners on this assignment of error because it was not obvious to LUBA why a “relatively small increase in the number of inventoried acres of big game habitat offsets the significant increase in allowable densities in a much larger area, particularly within the Elk Range and in the West County Area.” LUBA declared that the county must “adopt findings that respond more directly to petitioners’ contentions that the increased residential densities that are allowed by Ordinance 259 in the West County Area and Greater County Area will result in significant damage to big game habitat that is not offset by any of the other changes adopted by Ordinance 259 or justified in the county’s ESEE analysis.” REMANDED.