Residents appeal court dismissal

Mike McCarthy and the Hood River Valley Residents’ Committee are appealing a two-time court dismissal of their challenge over a land exchange between the county and Mt. Hood Meadows, Ltd.

Meanwhile, Meadows and the county have each filed a response to the petitioners’ local backup lawsuit that lists the same arguments in a different legal format.

“HRVRC has the preservation of the rural nature and value of our productive farm community as one of its central tenets, and therefore we will pursue this matter to secure a hearing on the merits,” said McCarthy, a HRVRC member.

The Cascade Resources Advocacy Group, a Portland-based law firm representing the HRVRC and McCarthy, are seeking to have a higher state court overturn Circuit Court Judge Donald’s Hull second denial to hear their case in July.

Hull’s action followed an initial ruling in May that CRAG had followed the wrong legal format in its request for court scrutiny of the deal.

In both hearings, the judge determined that neither the HRVRC or McCarthy, who resides a short distance from Meadows’ new property, had standing to file the action since they had not sustained a personal injury from the timber land trade.

At issue is the county’s decision last fall to exchange 640 acres of public property south of Parkdale for 786 acres owned by Meadows in the same vicinity. The deal was finalized on March 11 and a “writ of review” lawsuit was filed by CRAG about two weeks later. However, Hull upheld that the county had taken a legislative action to initiate the trade and the request for court examination only applied if officials had been acting in a quasi-judicial, or legally binding, capacity.

Among other arguments, Ken Maddox, president of the HRVRC, contends the trade of forest parcels will ultimately harm the Crystal Springs watershed because Meadows plans to develop a destination resort on the property.

“The transfer of these public lands into private hands severely threatens our drinking water supply and our public resources,” said Maddox.

However, the official mapping of that watershed area and a hydrology study to determine what path groundwater and runoff actually takes to feed the spring has not yet been completed, according to Bob Duddles, superintendent of Crystal Springs Water District.

He acknowledged that the trade itself would have no detrimental effect on the watershed since the topography would remain unchanged. But he said the agency, which serves about 5,000 people, disagreed with that action because of potential development.

“If it’s just a land exchange and they don’t do anything with it I don’t think there’s any concern, but if they (Meadows) make a decision to put a destination resort up there then I’m sure we’ll be involved,” said Duddles.

Dave Riley, Meadows general manager, questions how Duddles, the HRVRC and McCarthy can take strong stands without any plans on the table by Meadows outlining where a project would be built or what mitigation measures might be undertaken to offset the development.

“McCarthy and the HRVRC are premature in concluding that anything we do on our land will have an effect on Crystal Springs,” said Riley. “This is just another example of these people spreading misinformation. We have no intent of harming the Crystal Springs water, that is ridiculous to even insinuate and a direct insult to our intelligence.”

All of the parties involved in the legal controversy are seeking to recoup attorney fees, although the date for the next court battle has not yet been set.

The HRVRC and McCarthy allege the county violated the public interest with the exchange. They argue that the appraisal should legally have factored in Meadows’ public intent to construct a destination resort on the property which borders its Cooper Spur Inn holdings.

The county and Meadows contend that state law requires forest appraisals to be based on the “highest and best” existing use of the land — and not on speculation over a development proposal that has not been submitted.

Teunis Wyers, county general counsel, said both the county and Meadows decided not to ask for another dismissal, choosing instead to address the merits of the 16-page complaint that has 46 paragraphs of material. However, he questions why 30 lines of the lawsuit center on the harm done to the HRVRC and its ability to fulfill its mission and, thereby, attract new members.

“Are we going to have a trial on that issue which is totally irrelevant to the merits of this case?” asked Wyers. Central to the county and Meadows’ arguments are that CRAG’s lawsuit was “moot” because it was filed after the deal was officially recorded — with no notice given that it would be forthcoming prior to that action.

The county and Meadows also contend the new case was already essentially thrown out of court twice since it is based on the same facts. In addition, the co-defendants said that Hull has already made two determinations that the HRVRC and McCarthy do not have “standing” to bring the challenge.

However, McCarthy said by ignoring expert appraisal testimony presented by the HRVRC prior to closing the deal, the county has turned a “blind eye” to the real value of Meadows’ property and deprived citizens of the “true worth” of their public resources.

“These are not issues of personal and practical import to me and my farming operations, but this case sets important precedent for the management and valuation of our public resources throughout the state,” said McCarthy.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



Log in to comment

Columbia Gorge news and businesses