Wednesday the city of Prineville became the first agency to pay a property owner under Measure 37. The basic idea of the law when voters passed it in 2004 was to compensate landowners if regulations reduced their property values, but until today, governments have chosen to waive regulations rather than pay. Ethan Lindsey reports from Central Oregon.
80-year-old Grover Palin picked up a $180,000 check today. He didn't win the publisher's clearinghouse sweepstakes - although you might consider his payment the property rights equivalent of hitting the jackpot.
He and his wife Edith are the first Oregonians to get paid by the government under the 2004 Oregon law known as Measure 37.
Prineville city manager Robb Corbett says the city has no problem being the first to pay up under the new law.
Robb Corbett: “We feel strongly in Crook County that if government comes in and regulates the use of property, then the property owner should be compensated.”
Most of the similar claims across the state have been resolved by allowing the land owners to build. Or the cases remain stuck in court.
The Palins bought the land in 1963. The acreage has a killer view — its located on the so-called 'rimrock', a mountainous outcropping perched above the old downtown of Prineville.
When they bought the land, there were almost no limits on what they could with it. But over the next 44 years, governments have thrown up a bunch of restrictions.
That's why, when the Palins said they wanted to build their dream home at the edge of the cliff — the city told them they couldn't.
So last year the city council voted to pay the Palins $47,000.
Robb Corbett: “They do not want development up on the rim, that was of utmost important to the city council.”
But, just a short time later, the Palins filed a second claim, this time to build a hotel.
Corbett says the city council originally thought about fighting it, but eventually agreed a settlement would be best for all parties.
Prineville was also staring down the barrel of a 180-day legal deadline to decide the claim. Corbett says the city didn't even consider whether the case would be affected by November's vote on Measure 49.
That's the statewide vote to revise Measure 37.
It is unclear whether the Palins would have been eilgible for the $180,000 check, under Meaure 49.