Monday, August 27, 2012

City Going to Get Hammered Over SWIP Release

When it comes to the surface water improvement project, the city can’t seem to win.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 11:53 PM


When it comes to the surface water improvement project, the city can’t seem to win.

City staff are under fire today for sending out a fairly misleading news release, but officials say that was not the intent.

Here’s the story: Last week the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals dismissed two potential appeals from Central Oregon Landwatch related to the SWIP.

The city sent out a press release today touting that LUBA had dismissed these two appeals.

BUT HERE’S THE BIG PART: The biggest, most real LUBA challenge from Landwatch to the city is still going forward!

That big challenge, which has to do with the city’s water public facilities plan, could really throw a wrench in the city’s SWIP project.

But, the city makes no mention of this in the release. Instead, the release reads as if the city has won a victory against Landwatch. But it really hasn't.

Naturally, this is going to be seen as more “city trying to mislead the people on SWIP.”

Mary Winters, the city’s attorney, says that’s not the case—they just didn't see the need to mention the appeal that was going forward since it still hasn't been argued. 

“There is no big conspiracy thing going on here,” said Winters. “We’re way too busy to put that much thought into a press release.

Well, no offense, Mary, but apparently. 

The city should put more thought into press releases that provide an accurate picture, rather than just information that vindicates it's side. 

FOR YOU LEGAL NERDS: LUBA dismissed Landwatch’s challenges against a city resolution to proceed with the project and the city’s decision to go forward on a contract relating to the project. In response, the city filed motions to dismiss these claims. LUBA agreed with the city that LUBA had no grounds to look at those decisions as they were not land-use related.


Surface Water Project appeals dismissed

The State Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) has dismissed two appeals by Central Oregon Landwatch on the City’s Surface Water Project.  Central Oregon Landwatch filed appeals on a City Council resolution in March 2012 reaffirming the decision to keep Bend’s dual water sources while modifying the project to reduce costs to ratepayers and an April 2012 City Council decision to amend a design and construction contract for the project.

LUBA agreed with the City’s response to the appeals and ruled that these Council actions are not final decisions on the Surface Water Project.  Further, LUBA ruled that the Council decisions were not land use decisions at all as defined by Oregon law, and, therefore, Central Oregon Landwatch failed to meet its burden of establishing that LUBA has jurisdiction to consider the appeals.

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