By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Zoning restored at a price

It took the Yamhill County Planning Commission only seven minutes last Thursday to unanimously approve a zone change for 40 acres on Peavine Road. That’s because it was a straightforward case, the staff recommended approval and no opposition surfaced.

The application was submitted by Jay Alan Shue and Karen Marie Swenson. They wanted to change the zoning on their Peavine Road property from Exclusive Farm use back to its original Agriculture/Forestry.

Commissioners noted the irony of having to charge the full zone-change fee of $2,650 just to undo a rezoning to EFU ordered by the state Department of Land Conservation and Development in 1993 and implemented without the owners’ knowledge, let alone input.

“It’s just a shame to have to spend the funds and energy to right what the state unjustifiably forced them into,” said Commissioner John Abrams. And adding insult to injury, Shue and Swenson also paid an attorney to advise them on how to proceed in the case.

County Planner Ken Friday said the Agriculture/ Forestry zone allows property owners more options than the EFU zone. He said people typically go through the expense only if they subsequently plan to seek approval for a forest template dwelling.

He said the county usually gets two or three such applications a year.

Periodically, Friday said, longtime owners ask the county how their property could have undergone a rezoning without their knowledge. Until passage of Measure 56 in 1998, local jurisdictions were not required to mail out notices when land use changes were instituted through new laws, ordinances or regulations, he said.

Friday said the impetus for the change came from passage of House Bill 3661 in the fall of 1993, an omnibus bill that brought the forest template dwelling into play. It included a requirement for Western Oregon to have an 80-acre minimum lot size and Eastern Oregon to have a 160-acre minimum, he said, but the county sought and obtained authorization for a 40-acre minimum instead.

In 1993, DLCD allowed the county to assign the 40-acre minimum on the applicant’s parcel. It opted for EFU zoning at the insistence of the state, as it was more restrictive than the mixed farm/forestry zoning.

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