By: Will Van Vactor
Resolving a land use dispute through the normal administrative and appeal processes can be expensive and time-consuming. In some land use cases, though, mediation can offer a way to resolve disputes in less time and for less money.
The types of land use cases that can be mediated vary. Some examples include:
- development applications
- comprehensive plan and development code amendments, and
- cases that are in litigation.
Not every case is right for mediation, though. Some cases involve too many issues and too many parties, so that reaching a universal agreement is not possible. For example, perhaps the developer and opponents believe there is a way to resolve the problem, but the local government is concerned about complying with substantive and procedural rules and is unwilling to enter an agreement that skirts those rules.
Moreover, because mediation is a voluntary, informal process, it only works when all parties agree to participate in good faith. In some cases, one party may have a significant advantage, perhaps due to financial resources, legal leverage, or political support. However, if all parties see that there is something to gain from meditation (like money, time, political capital, etc.), the case may be right for mediation.
The benefits of mediation can be many, including:
- cost and time savings,
- mutually beneficial resolution (often through creative problem solving),
- improved community relationships (for the local government and developer), and
- opportunity to focus on needs and interests of the parties, not just their respective legal positions.
If you are not sure whether mediation is right for your case, talk to your land use attorney.
Will Van Vactor has practiced law for over a decade and serves clients throughout Oregon. Will's practice focuses on land use and real estate. He works hard to understand his clients needs and to advocate on their behalf. Will is the Board President for Community Solutions of Central Oregon, a non-profit mediation and facilitation center serving Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties.
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