It's easy to be confused by land use laws and regulations. Each city and county in Oregon, especially Jackson County, has its own regulations that must be followed when going through the land use process. However, the answers to the following frequently asked questions are similar throughout Southern Oregon.
If you have other land use planning questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. We are happy to assist you in any way we can.
What is Lot Legality?Think of properties as fingerprints- each one is unique in how it was formed. Just because a neighboring property is legal does not mean yours is, too. Many property owners can be caught off guard when they hear the term ‘lot legality’. They have the idea that since they purchased their property legally, their property is legal. However, there are many factors to consider when getting down to the nuts and bolts of lot legality. Just because the deed to your property describes the property you purchased does not mean your property is legal. For example, if the previous owner of your property separated your land from a larger piece of land, and did so without County approval, your property may not be legal.
Demonstrating Lot LegalityThere are many factors to consider when trying to demonstrate lot legality, and the process could involve anything from a simple, quick overview to in-depth research. There are also different outlets to rely upon to prove that your property is legal. You could:
- Try to prove lot legality on your own. Unfortunately, if you are not aware of all of the land use laws, and you don’t know where to find the information you need, or even know what you are looking for, this task can be very difficult. Trying to prove lot legality on your own can quickly become a nightmare, and may make you want to give up on your land use goals altogether.
- Pay Jackson County to do the lot legality review. However, when submitting an application with the County, even for lot legality (LOT), the burden of proof is on the applicant. One cannot rely on the County to do all of the research to determine you have a legal parcel (or, if you are lucky, multiple parcels). We deal with Jackson County on a daily basis. Through our experiences, we have found you are much better off having us determine the lot legality, and then submitting the LOT application so the County can confirm our determination.
- Rely on a land use consultant to do the lot legality review for you. This is by far the best decision to make when you need to prove lot legality. We, as land use consultants, have the resources and experience that are a must for even the toughest lot legality reviews. Our goal is to get you the most out of what you have, so we dig deep when performing our research. In fact, we have been able to demonstrate with multiple cases that a parcel, which was thought by the land owner to be one property, turned out to be three or more separate legal parcels.
We begin all planning projects with a feasibility. A feasibility is a type of research that is performed to determine what the best land use and planning options are for a parcel. Based on the information collected, such as Areas of Special Concern (wildlife habitat), lot legality, overlays, soils, etc., we can determine the application process that best suits your desired use.
Overlays are the land, air, and water issues that impact specific land uses for a property and can affect the planning application process. Streams, creeks, air traffic, access, and numerous other issues have a direct effect on a where a homesite can be located on a property, or if certain types of land uses will be prohibited.
Land use planning consultants are here to help you get through the planning processes with the cities and counties in Oregon. The planners at Richard Stevens & Associates, Inc. are experienced with land use applications and the permitting processes for local jurisdictions. We advise property owners on land use and planning issues, and act as a representative for the applicant with the local planning departments, and at quasi-judicial hearings. We do the appropriate research and problem-solving for land owners who are interested in obtaining land use permits for homesites, commercial uses, subdivisions, etc. through the planning departments.
Many properties do qualify for a dwelling or other development. With a feasibility, we can find out what is the best use of your land, and whether it qualifies for a homesite or other desired development.
This depends on the zoning of your property. Different zoning districts have different allowed uses and permitted uses. It is always best to begin with a feasibility.
Generally you can as long as both property owners are in agreement, the properties are legal, and you are not developing on a parcel that was too small for development prior to the adjustment. A property line adjustment can help obtain access to a parcel, which is especially helpful if access is the only issue prohibiting development of a dwelling on that parcel.
Yes, as long as you can meet minimum parcel size standards and frontage requirements. Each zoning district establishes minimum parcel sizes. For example, a forest resource zone requires a minimum parcel size of 80 acres. A feasibility can help determine if a property division is possible.
Yes, as long as you are located within the Urban Growth Boundary.
Within the Cities, zoning is dependent on the Comprehensive Plan designation for each city. However, the Comprehensive Plan may be changed if you meet locational and other standards. Within the Counties, there are numerous factors to consider, but it can be done.