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Davis v. Nye Ditch Users Improvement Dist.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-14-2011
Case #: A145738
Walters, J. for the Court; Haselton, P.J.; & Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A145738.pdf

Property Law: An improvement district created according to ORS Chapter 554 has, by implication of its power to carry out its statutory purpose, the right to gain access to its works on members' property for necessary improvements and repairs.

Plaintiff landowners Davis and Ritter appeal summary judgment granted to Nye Ditch Users Improvement Dist. (Nye Ditch Dist.) allowing workers to enter Ritter and Davis's land for the purpose of making improvements to Nye Ditch Dist.’s irrigation ditch. Davis and Ritter asserted that an improvement district does not have statutory authority to enter the property of its members, even if the articles of incorporation grant them authority. Davis and Ritter further argued the Nye Ditch Dist. did not acquire the access easements of its members, and even if the defendant does have a right of access, it must abide by the statutory procedures that govern that right. The Court found these arguments unpersuasive, and instead ruled that ORS Chapter 554 allowed improvement districts the right to operate and maintain works, and to undertake projects that are convenient or beneficial for those works. The Court recognized that the legislature granted improvement districts authority to exercise their power, including the right to improve and repair the works, to obtain access to them, and to act on behalf of owners in the exercise of their common law rights to improvements, repairs and the access necessary to effectuate those efforts. Thus, the statute allowed the necessary access by implication. The district acquiring its own water or property rights did not condition these rights. The Davis and Ritter’s challenge of the Nye Ditch Dist.’s assessment of fees was without merit. Affirmed.