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Farmland owner seeks rezone for home sites.

Byline: DEVELOPMENT REPORT By Joe Harwood The Register-Guard

The owner of a big chunk of land south of Eugene zoned for farm uses is seeking permission to change the zoning and break up the parcel for rural home estates.

Karen Dahlen, who lives on the 322-acre parcel at 85800 S. Willamette St., outside Eugene's city limits and urban growth boundary, last year submitted an application to rezone the property.

The Lane County Planning Commission will consider the request at a public hearing at 7 tonight at Harris Hall, 125 E. Eighth Ave. in Eugene.

Dahlen is seeking a change from farm use to a "marginal land" designation, which would allow her to split her property into parcels of 10 acres or larger.

The county is one of two in Oregon that allow landowners to petition for a marginal land zoning designation, said Kent Howe, director of the county's Land Management Division.

The Legislature established the marginal category in 1983 to cover property erroneously zoned for exclusive farm or forest uses. At the time, counties across the state were zoning vast areas of property in order to complete their state-mandated rural comprehensive plans, which govern land use and development.

"It is a tool to recognize that not all of the lands fit into exclusive farm or forest use," Howe said.

State land use laws prohibit the development of prime agricultural and forest land.

County code requires anyone seeking the marginal land tag to meet strict criteria. Owners must prove that the soil is not among the four varieties protected under state law to prevent development of agricultural land. They also must show that the land cannot produce wood fiber, crops or support livestock on a commercial basis. Since 1984, the county has applied the marginal lands tag to 1,451 acres of property.

Steve Cornacchia, a Eugene attorney representing Dahlen, said she also must show that the land has not been managed as part of a farm or forest operation since 1980 - and if it has, those operations did not exceed specific income thresholds.

Cornacchia noted that marginal land usually can sustain some type of timber or farm production, but not enough to make a living.

"These lands allow someone to live there and generate a low amount of supplemental income" if they choose to grow trees or graze livestock, he said.

Dahlen plans to divide the property into 11 lots ranging from 14 acres to 45 acres in size, according to documents filed with the county.

A year ago, Dahlen won the marginal land designation for a 67-acre parcel fronting Willamette, immediately adjacent to the 322-acre tract. Dahlen is working on a five-lot subdivision for the property already zoned marginal land, Cornacchia said.

That development would have one 20-acre lot and four lots of 10 acres or more.

Dahlen's request also must pass muster with the county's Board of Commissioners.

Development Report runs Tuesdays.
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Title Annotation:Real Estate & Housing
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 15, 2005
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