Tuesday, July 9, 2002
Side arguments are heating up in the lawsuit over Hood River County’s land exchange with Mt. Hood Meadows, Ltd., as the opposing parties await a court decision.
Teunis Wyers, county general counsel, has filed a sharp rebuttal to ethical charges levied against him by the Cascade Resources Advocacy Group. The Portland firm represents the Hood River Valley Residents Committee and Mike McCarthy, one of its members.
McCarthy is countering a challenge made by Ken Galloway, county forester, that at least one of the lost recreational interests he listed to show injury from the exchange is not valid.
Meanwhile, Galloway contends that some opponents of the exchange are spreading “disinformation” about the $1 million payment to Meadows for a value differential. He said these individuals appear to be unaware that the county traded 640 acres that held about 3.9 million board feet of marketable timber for about 700 acres with 7.9 million board feet.
Wyers has submitted written comments to the Oregon State Bar Association refuting the charges by CRAG that he has a conflict of interest in the case. Attorneys Ralph Bloemers and Chris Winter allege that Wyers has committed ethical violations by becoming involved in the disputed land exchange. Their arguments are based on the fact that 24 years ago Wyers represented the HRVRC in its fight against a prior Meadows rezone request for a destination resort.
“The reporting lawyers are either misinterpreting the ethics rules, or they are manipulating them to obtain tactical advantage in litigation,” wrote Wyers.
He argues that the current litigation has been filed over a legislative action taken by the county to undertake a land exchange with Meadows. He said Meadows does not even have a destination resort application on the table so there is no formal quasi-judicial hearing underway over that matter.
“In this case, there is no fact, thing or claim from the 1978 matter that is relevant or material in relation to either the land exchange itself, or any litigation challenging the decision making process,” stated Wyers.
In addition, he asserts that Will Carey, county land-use counsel, handled the timberland exchange all the way through the hearings and decision making process. Wyers said his only involvement in the trade was to close the real property deal and prepare arguments in the current litigation.
McCarthy said the complaint against Wyers was filed independently by CRAG attorneys Winters and Bloemers, and not at the request of either the HRVRC or himself.
“Mr. Bloemers and Mr. Winter submitted the report pursuant to their own ethical obligations which require them to inform the Bar of potential violations by other attorneys,” wrote McCarthy in a press release.
McCarthy also countered Galloway’s assertion that his lost recreational opportunity to cut Christmas trees should be voided because that action was prohibited on county land. McCarthy said he harvested trees for the holiday when the property belonged to the U.S. Forest Service.
As of press time on Friday, Circuit Court Judge Donald Hull had not yet rendered a decision on whether to reverse his earlier dismissal of the HRVRC and McCarthy’s request that he scrutinize the deal between the county and Meadows.
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