Rural Use Zoning
Rural Sprawl Potential Cut in Half in Jackson County
Rogue Advocates won a LUBA appeal in February 2010 challenging Jackson County's decision on remand to allow an application to subdivide 340 acres of rural land and open space into 10-acre parcels. The land is located north of Jacksonville (See map for exact location).
The application requested a zoning change from forestland to a zoning that would allow rural residential development. Ordinarily to change zoning of resource lands, an applicant must go through a rigorous "exceptions" process at the state level. Jackson County, however, allows landowners to challenge their land's zoning designation in some cases without going through this process. The county allows landowners who can show that their resource lands (i.e. farmland or forestland) would be more appropriate for residential uses, the applicant may rezone the land as "Rural Use 20 Acres." This allows the landowner to subdivide the property into parcels no smaller than 20 acres.
In its decision, Jackson County had approved the re-zone to "Rural Residential 10 Acres" (RR10) for these 340 acres instead, allowing the applicant to subdivide into 10 acre rather than 20 acre plots. We contended that it was illegal to allow this higher density zoning without requiring the more rigorous exemptions process that go with this zoning designation. LUBA agreed.
If the county's decision had been left unchallenged, it would not only have contributed to double the amount of rural sprawl in this particular area north of Jacksonville, but would have set a precedent for other landowners to exploit this situation, resulting in large-scale sprawl on the thousands of acres of similar lands throughout the valley.