K & B's Measure 37 claim to be decided Monday

<I>Elane Dickenson/Chieftain</I><BR>Attorney Rahn Hostetter makes a point during the K & B Measure 37 claim hearing continuation Tuesday; opposing attorney Geoff Whiting is seen in the background.

A decision on the Measure 37 claim by K & B Limited Partnership for the Marr Ranch property south of Joseph will be made by the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners at 10 a.m. Monday.

"This claim is trivial ...," said attorney Geoff Whiting, representing the Nez Perce Tribe. "But if you give away Article 44, you are setting a terrible precedent for more significant claims."

Whiting's contention was the original claim filed last December for $1 million, and citing land use regulations back to 1999, has been whittled down to a "the crumbs of it" since that time.

Attorney Rahn Hostetter, representing K & B, responded by explaining that under Measure 37, the 1990 time frame was replaced to the date the present owner acquired the property, Feb. 1, 2002, after the county said it would not pay compensation.

K & B now seeks only waiver of Article 44, an amendment to the county's land use plan covering the Wallowa Lake moraine and implementing state Goal 5, passed after the ownership change. He said Article 44 had reduced the value of the property, citing the difference of about $850,000 in two assessments, one before and one after the article was passed.

At the previous hearing, it was noted that if Article 44 was eliminated, its predecessor, Article 28, would go into effect; Hostetter said at that time they would be happy to live with that.

Tuesday Hostetter said that Article 28 wouldn't affect Marr Ranch development because it exempts all property in a urban growth boundary from Goal 5 protection, and the property is located within the Joseph Urban Growth Boundary.

County commissioner Dan DeBoie asked "what uses would be allowed if Article 44 is waived that aren't allowed under Article 44?" at the beginning of the hearing. DeBoie said that state and federal laws, concerning cultural resources, would still have to be followed.

Hostetter said that there were no specific uses prohibited, but that trying to comply with Article 44 provisions limited development options. He pointed to appeals of the last development proposal citing Article 44 concerns, and said they were also part of the Land Use Board of Appeal remand.

He said he found it ironic that opponents of the preliminary plat - which has been withdrawn from the planning process by K & B - had used Article 44 to appeal the plat, but are now saying the effects of the article on the property are minimal.

"I know I'm going to need some more time to think about this," commissioner Ben Boswell said Tuesday near the end the hearing.

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