Monday, July 30, 2012

City Sues Former Law Firm Over Land Use Law Advice

Here is an interesting article from today’s Oregonian (I used to live in Portland and still follow the local news) discussing the city of Forest Grove, Oregon’s lawsuit against a firm that represented it in a land use case.  There is more background detail in an earlier article in the Portland Tribune.  I could not find the filings in the case.  

The city sought to condemn 140 acres of private farmland for use as a park.  It eventually abandoned its condemnation attempt, paid the property owner $186,000 in legal bills, and later settled, for $300,000, a suit for lost rental income and potential income.   Forest Grove is now seeking $528,004 from the law firm, which it asserts failed “to provide adequate guidance to the city leading up to and after the condemnation effort.”  The lawsuit centers on the language in a resolution passed by the city, at the advice, it claimed, of its attorney, stating that the city could “sell or lease for private development any portion [of the land taken by condemnation] not needed for park and recreation needs.”  The property’s owners invoked this passage in challenging the condemnation and the city argues the resolution weakened its position in court. 

Oregon’s law governing eminent domain, which includes a post-Kelo provision prohibiting condemnation with intent to convey to a private party, can be found here.

John Infranca

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