County Properly Used 'Surrogate Questions' To Interpret Ordinance

Wednesday, October 03, 2018 7:37 am
October 2018 - Volume 46 Number 10

An Oregon county was permitted to interpret undefined terms in its zoning code by using surrogate questions, such as: “How large is the existing use as compared to the accessory use being sought?”

Facts: Larry Kaplowitz and Karin Marcus wanted to convert part of a horse barn into a “sanctuary” containing a yoga/dance/music studio, guest room, recording study, and bathrooms. The owners planned to use the sanctuary themselves each day and to share it with small groups of friends on the weekends. They also planned to use the sanctuary to host bigger parties of 40 people each month, as well as larger events (e.g., weddings or bar mitzvahs) once a year.

Kaplowitz and Marcus applied to Lane County, Oregon for a zoning consistency determination that would certify the lawfulness of their planned “accessory use.” The 9.7-acre rural tract was zoned “Impacted Forest Land (F-2)” and already contained a 3,600-square-foot residence in addition to the horse barn. The F-2 zone allows for a variety of uses including forestry, different types of residences, energy production, and solid waste disposal. The Lane County Code (the Code) also permits “uses and development accessory to existing uses and development.” The Code defines [..]