Willamette Law Online

Oregon Supreme Court


ListPrevious


Friends of Yamhill County v. Board of Commissioners

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-20-2011
Case #: S058915
Kistler, J. for the Court; De Muniz, C.J.; Durham, J.; Balmer, J.; Linder, J.; & Landau, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S058915.pdf

Land Use: To determine the expense ratio in a Measure 49 vested rights pathway exemption, the court considers the following questions: What is the expected cost of the project? What is the expense ratio? Is the expense ratio substantial? As to the last question, ‘substantial’ is relative to the cost of the project, where a small ratio may equal millions of dollars.

Yamhill County Board of Commissioners (Board) granted to Cook a conditional Measure 37 exemption so that he could develop his land into a 10-lot subdivision. After the Board’s approval, Cook conducted preliminary development of his property, including satisfying conditional requirements set forth by the Board. Additionally, the day before Measure 49 went into effect, Cook obtained approval of the final subdivision plat and recorded it. However, Measure 49 retroactively invalidated all Measure 37 waivers of land use regulations, forcing Cook to stop development and choose between three options: 1) the express pathway, 2) the conditional pathway, and 3) the vested rights pathway. Cook attempted to complete his development under the vested rights pathway of Measure 49 and filed with his documents evidence indicating his current expenditures, and estimated expenditures remaining to complete the project. At this point, Friends of Yamhill County (Friends) filed competing evidence of Cook’s true expenditures, as they are entitled under county ordinance. The Board approved Cooks vested rights pathway on the grounds that Cook’s plans – both preliminary and final – were approved by the Board without public objection, and that Cook satisfied the six factors from Clackamas Co. v. Holmes. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court and the County erred in determining whether Cook’s use of the land was in accordance with permissible land usage when Cook acquired the land, and that proper weight was not given to expenditure ratio factor. On review, the Supreme Court held that the County misapplied applicable law when it improperly calculated the expenditure ratio factor of Holmes for failing to determine the type and value of the homes Cook sought to build. Thus, the Board and Cook could not argue that his expenditure was substantial, which is a critical Holmes factor. Affirmed