Oregon Supreme Court to hear land-use case

Chris Rizo Jan. 5, 2010, 3:48pm

Oregon Supreme Court justices

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline)-The Oregon Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments over a long-running case involving the state's landmark land-use law Measure 37.

The voter-approved measure was passed in 2004 with the aim of relaxing the Beaver State's notoriously strict environmental and zoning rules.

Approved by 61 percent of statewide voters, the law compels local and state officials to compensate property owners when land-use laws reduce their property values or waive the regulations.

At issue Wednesday is whether Multnomah County must pay $1.15 million in compensation to the estate of Dorothy English, who was the poster girl for the Measure 37 cause.

English had sought to develop her 20 acres in Portland. She wanted to divide the property, which bought land in 1953, into eight parcels for her extended family. Multnomah County denied her development permit, citing zoning rules.

After Measure 37 passed, she filed a claim for compensation. English was the first person to file a claim under the new law.

English won her case in December 2006. The county's Board of Commissioners agreed to let her develop her property in lieu of paying her. After the county refused to pay on the judgment, English sought a writ of mandamus to force the county's hand.

She sued and ultimately won summary judgment for the compensation amount. The county appealed.

A year after her death in 2008, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled in her favor. The appeals court also ordered the county to pay English's legal fees.

The English estate says the county must pay the $1.15 judgment plus attorney fees. This is what the high court will decide in the case of State ex rel Dorothy English v. Multnomah County.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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