The passage of Measure 37 could have quite an affect - both financially and in terms of overturning zoning regulation - in rural Oregon, but local officials say before that happens, the state legislature is likely to get involved.

"The vote (to pass the measure) is a clear message that something needs to be done with current land use regulation," said Wallowa County Commissioner Mike Hayward. "But there will probably be challenges on the state level and it'll probably be different than it reads now."

Measure 37, an amendment to ORS 197, says that government must pay landowners, or forego enforcement, when certain land use restrictions reduce property values. There are also grandfather provision, allowing land use in accordance with laws in effect at the time of family purchase.

Hayward said that the good side of legal challenges is that would force the legislature to come up with "a middle ground" solution.

"Wallowa County doesn't have the money to compensate people for lost value and, as written now, people could do almost anything they wanted to on their land," he said. "There probably aren't enough resources in the state (to make compensatory payments). It would kill schools and law enforcement and a lot of other things."

Wallowa County Planning Director Bill Oliver said a publicly passed bonded fund could handle compensation requests, as it does in King County, Wash., and other areas of the country. "That would allow people to protect lands that they really felt needed to be protected by zoning rules, a few special places," he said. "Measure 37 brings inequity by allowing land use decisions to be based on length of ownership. It's not going to be the panacea that people hoped for."

Oliver also said that the state legislature needs to get involved to iron out problems with the statute. With the Oregon Senate swinging over to the Democrats next session and the three seats the Democrats gained in the House, Oliver sees the legislature as probably more willing to want to work on Measure 37's language.

"I think this vote is an expression of frustration," he stated. "Sixty percent of the people are unhappy and the legislature must respond to that."

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