Youngman case back on appeal
The Youngman Family Trust case came under appeal again this month, when the land-use watchdog group Friends of Yamhill County challenged the second vesting determination made by Yamhill County after the first was remanded by the Oregon Court of Appeals.
Attorney Todd Sadlo, acting as a county hearings officer, issued the most recent ruling in the case in January, setting the stage for a new round of appeals. In it, he maintained the Youngman family had established a vested legal right to develop a 12-lot subdivision on 58 acres at 15345 NW Tupper Road, in the rural Yamhill area.
The land-use group argues the family trust wasn’t legally entitled to assume a claim originating with the late Maude Youngman. Only she would be so entitled, it says.
It also maintains the trust failed to prove sufficient investment in the project to meet the test established in Measure 49 for upholding claims filed under Measure 37 — a test designed to determine whether a property owner has established a vested right to proceed, even though the rules have changed.
The case began in 2005, when Youngman, who had owned the property since 1962, filed a pair of Measure 37 claims with the state and county.
They weren’t the first filed with the county after passage of the controversial measure, but they were the first to pass muster and win approval. Neighbors expressed concerns about the water supply and traffic capacity, but it was not sufficient to sway Yamhill County planning commissioners.
The first complication arose when the approval on the claim at issue was appealed to the county board of commissioners and Youngman died before the case came up for hearing.
The board proceeded with the hearing anyway and affirmed the planning commission on a 2-0 vote. Kathy George and Leslie Lewis providing the deciding votes, with Mary Stern abstaining because she had missed a prior proceeding.
Joined by neighbors Katherine and Marty Dunn, Friends appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
LUBA reversed the county. But the family trust, which inherited the property from Maude Youngman and pressed the claim on her behalf, appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals. It sided with LUBA on the overturning of the county’s original vesting decision under Measure 37, but remanded the case, saying the county was required to consider the vesting issue anew now that Measure 49 had superseded Measure 37, serving to change the rules.
Youngman’s family contends work on the site was already well under way when she died in December 2006. They said the family had acquired septic approval, installed two septic tanks, drilled a well and begun working with the county on an access road.
Friends says the family had logged the land, cleared the brush, excavated septic system test pits, done some preliminary road work and dug one well. And it says that’s not sufficient to meet the vesting test established in Measure 49.
The group says no utilities were ever installed, no foundations poured and no driveways put in. What’s more, it says the family trust originally proposed luxury homes, but switched to manufactured homes so the trust could claim a larger percentage of the ultimate investment already made.
In addition, Friends is continuing to press its contention that the original authorization was for Maude Youngman personally, and cannot legally be passed to the family trust.
The Youngmans dispute those claims on every count, as do Sadlo and the county, based on the determinations they have made along the way.
The next step is an airing before Presiding Judge John Collins in Yamhill County Circuit Court. The county has been asked to submit a copy of the case record, now five inches thick, by May 6.
Measure 49 specifically directs vesting appeals be heard by circuit courts rather than LUBA.