Wednesday, May 14, 2014/lk
The Hood River Valley Residents Committee has announced it intends to appeal to the state level a recent county planning decision that approved a land use permit for a radio-control flyer field at Barrett Park.
Last week, the land use watchdog group filed a notice of intent to appeal the decision with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), which named Hood River County as a respondent. According to the document, HRVRC is represented by Isa Anne Silver, a Hood River attorney.
The notice is the latest in a series of actions HRVRC has recently taken against Barrett Park — a 31.4-acre parcel of land located on the west side of Hood River that is owned by Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District. Late last month, HRVRC sent a letter to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, requesting the state agency not execute a $494,000 grant agreement with HRVPRD for the development of the park, asserting that HRVPRD never had the required land use approval for the park’s development and should have never received the funding.
Approximately a week later, HRVRC filed an appeal with the county over its decision to grant a land use permit for the development of RC flying facilities, arguing that it is in violation of state and county land use laws.
The document for HRVRC’s newest action doesn’t contain any information regarding, what specifically, HRVRC would be contesting in a potential appeal at the LUBA level. Heather Staten, vice president of HRVRC, explained her group is arguing that the RC flyer application should have been processed by way of a land use decision, not a ministerial decision, and that the notice of intent to appeal to LUBA was “an insurance policy” in case the Hood River County Planning Commission did not agree.
According to county zoning ordinances, a ministerial decision is used when the application “does not require interpretation or the exercise of policy or legal judgment in evaluating approval standards.” Land use decisions, Staten said, are for applications that require more discretion, and provide for a quasi-judicial process that includes the opportunity for public testimony.
“We have no doubt [LUBA] will consider it a land use decision,” she said.
Polly Wood, president of HRVRC, added in an email that the LUBA appeal is also in case the planning commission decides HRVRC doesn’t even have the right to appeal this sort of decision.
“We filed the LUBA appeal to cover our bases in case the County Planning Commission were to ultimately claim that we did not have a right to an appeal under county rules which appear to have contradictory statements about whether we actually do have a right to appeal to the commission,” she explained. “The planning commission’s agreement to hear our appeal doesn’t mean they could not later find that we did not have a right to appeal. If that were the case, then the LUBA appeal would be our backup. We have already told the county we are willing to stay the LUBA appeal so that the local appeal before the commission can move forward as scheduled.”
As of now, the appeal is still at the county level. A public hearing on HRVRC’s appeal has been tentatively scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, June 11.