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Wetherell v. Douglas County

Court of Appeals of Oregon
230 P.3d 976 (2010)


Facts

Garden Valley Estates, LLC (Garden Valley) (plaintiff) brought suit challenging an order of the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) (defendant). LUBA’s order held that a 259-acre parcel of land (Property) owned by Garden Valley that was not used for ranching or grazing, but that had been part of a 590-acre livestock ranch prior to partition and purchase by Garden Valley in 2005, was a “farm unit” under Oregon law and was therefore subject to regulations meant to preserve agricultural land for agricultural use. Garden Valley argued that the Property could not be a farm unit because the 590 acres, including the Property, could not be profitably used for a farm-related purpose. LUBA argued, based on the text of the Oregon statute, that profitability did not involve a consideration of whether a parcel of land was intermingled with or adjacent to lands with the appropriate soil classification that were within a farm unit. Regarding that situation, as well as where the subject parcel was once jointly operated with the adjacent land as a farm, LUBA held that the relevant question was whether there was some significant obstacle to the resumption of the joint operation of the land for agricultural purposes. Because the soil, water, and forage conditions had not changed since the operation of the 590 acres as a ranch, LUBA held that there was no significant obstacle and that the 590 acres—including the Property—constituted a farm unit. The court of appeals reviewed LUBA’s order.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Haselton, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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