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Measure 49 voids many pending land-use claims

By Ty Beaver, Herald and News 11/28/07

   Fifteen of 17 pending Measure 37 land-use claims within the Klamath Falls urban growth boundary are no longer valid under a new voterapproved land-use law, county planning officials said.
   Measure 49, approved by voters Nov. 6, replaces Measure 37 and limits the number of homes built on submitted claims among other restrictions. The new law goes into effect Dec. 6.
   Ma ny of the pend i ng claims within the urban growth boundary are void because the land is commercial or industrial instead of residential, said Les Wilson, interim county planning director.
   “A lot of people put a lot of good faith effort into their claim and now they’re finding out they can’t pursue it,” Wilson said.
   Wilson and other county planning department staff talked about the new law Tuesday night with Klamath County commissioners.
   Repercussions of Measure 49 could hurt local development efforts, Wilson said.
   Two of the 17 claims within the urban growth boundary are zoned residential, he said, but they still face obstacles. The claims’ validity would be based on whether the zoning existed before or after establishment of the urban growth boundary and what government entity did the zoning.
   Measure 37 claims elsewhere in the county also are at risk, Wilson said.
   P roper ty ow ners w ith high-value farm or forest land could have difficulty getting permission to build more than the three homes specif ied by Measure 49. The same goes for any land with a water-use permit for irrigation.
   No claims are safe, Wilson said, but those who received them before Dec. 4, 2006, and started to act by pursuing permits and building are less likely to lose a court battle.
   Those who received their waivers and then waited to see how the real estate market did are likely to be in for an unpleasant surprise.
   “Just because they have the waiver doesn’t mean they can proceed with the project,” Wilson said.
   Michael Slay, a real estate broker in Klamath Falls, is beginning to see consequences of Measure 49. In the weeks since it passed, seven or eight potential claims fell to the wayside, he said.
   “It’s horrible, simply horrible,” he said.
   Slay said he knows a family with a ranch near Chiloquin which wanted to use a Measure 37 claim to develop the land and help pay off a mortgage. Measure 49 eliminated that possibility.
   Wilson said Measure 49 did clarify the issue of transferability and makes it easier for people to pursue claims on lands owned by their deceased spouses.
   But Wilson said he wouldn’t be surprised if another measure on the ballot next fall attempts to fix problems with Measure 49.
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