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COVID-19 and Land Use Applications

How is the Coronavirus Impacting Pending Land Use Applications at the Local Level?

By: Will Van Vactor

COVID-19 is impacting many pending land use applications because governmental offices are closing (or limiting operations) and meetings/hearings are being cancelled. As an example, the City of Bend began cancelling meetings on March 12. And currently many of the City's offices, including its Permit Center, are on limited operations.

These cancellations and limited operations will slow the processing of many land use applications. This is important because Oregon law requires that, for cities, final action be within 120-days. ORS 227.178. Similarly, counties have 150-days to take final action. ORS 215.427.

These deadlines can be extended by the applicant. But only up to one year from when the application is deemed complete. See ORS 227.178(5) and ORS 215.427(5). Any applicant faced with determining whether to waive one of these timelines, may want limit the waiver to a certain time period, to avoid granting more time than is necessary.

If a respective deadline is not met by a city or county, the applicant has the right to file a writ of mandamus in circuit to compel action by the local government. The consequence and merits of doing so is beyond the scope of this post and should be thoroughly analyzed before such action is taken. Under current circumstances, it may not even be an option since state courts are also limiting operations due to COVID-19.

For applicants that just recently filed, these issues may not come into play, although there is a chance even if we all get back to business as usual quickly (fingers crossed), there will be likely be a backlog of cases. Some with higher priority. So, chances are, every case will be impacted somehow.

To date, the Department of Land Conservation and Development (commonly known as DLCD) has indicated its hands are tied because the above discussed timelines are statutory. Notwithstanding DLCD's inability to act, a fix from the state legislature is possible. The legislature will be tasked with a number of issues if it convenes in an emergency session next week. Land use may be a low priority (understandably), but if, at some point, there is fix, we'll try to update this post so you know how any adjustment to timelines may impact your application.

Be sure talk to your land use attorney about how these timelines, closures/cancellations, and COVID-19 may be impacting your application, so you can determine the best way to proceed. 

Land use applications will be impacted by COVID-19.


The information on this blog is for general informational purposes only. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.

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