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Historic review board must adopt findings regarding refusal to consent to landmark designation:

General Litigation

In McLoughlin Neighborhood Association v. Oregon City, LUBA Case Nos. 2017-052/054 (2017), WLG attorney Jesse Buss represented the McLoughlin Neighborhood Association (MNA) in its campaign to designate two historic WWII buildings as local historic landmarks.

The two buildings, located within an Oregon City park, were slated for demolition as part of a larger office/industrial-style development plan within the park. But when local residents uncovered the buildings’ history as WWII army buildings from Camp Adair (they had been relocated from Camp Adair in the 1940s), a movement began to protect and renovate them. The two buildings are the last of their kind; most of the buildings from Camp Adair were demolished long ago. During WWII, Camp Adair (outside of Corvallis) became Oregon’s second largest city.

The law specifies how to submit a proper petition for historic landmark designation, and the MNA followed the law precisely. Yet the city refused to hold a hearing, issue a decision on the application, or make any findings whatsoever. Instead, the city simply ignored the application, claiming that ORS 197.772 allowed it to do so. The MNA took the case to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), arguing that the city was required to address the MNA’s arguments and issue findings regarding the application. LUBA agreed, and remanded the case to the city for a proper analysis of the issues.

While the Camp Adair buildings have yet to be protected as historic landmarks, this case makes it clear that local governments are not free to ignore listing petitions. Instead, their historic review boards must, at a minimum, address the threshold legal issues raised by historic preservation applicants, regardless of the so-called “owner consent” provisions of ORS 197.772.

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