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the Valley State TODAY

Eminent domain initiative grows


Voters in 2006 could be asked to limit the government&

s power to take private property. Oregonians in Action, the state&

s leading property rights group, filed paperwork Tuesday with the state elections office for a November 2006 ballot measure that would allow governments to condemn property only if they plan to use it themselves &

not turn it over to private developers.

The issue gained national attention in June when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled local governments can force owners to sell land for economic development projects that benefit the public.

The proposed initiative needs 75,630 signatures to make the ballot.

The group scored a victory in the November 2004 election, when its Measure 37 was backed by 61 percent of voters. The measure allows property owners affected by land use restrictions that were passed after they bought the property to either ask for an exemption from the rules, or compensation for any loss in property value that was caused by the regulations.

The condemnation issue is unlikely to be as contentious. Land-use planning advocate 1000 Friends of Oregon is fine with limiting condemnation power &

depending on the details, director Bob Stacey said Tuesday.

The initiative would protect homes, businesses, farms and forests from condemnation for private projects. Governments could still buy land for utilities or transportation facilities that are privately operated.

Mother charged in son&

s drowning


A manslaughter charge was filed against a Medford woman whose 2-year-old son drowned in a backyard swimming pool. Grand jurors this week indicted Jessica Shine, 28, after prosecutors alleged that she negligently caused the death of James Shine on May 3.

The boy drowned in about two feet of water after apparently climbing the pool&

s 3-foot-high side, investigators said. It&

s unclear how long the unattended toddler was in the water before Jessica Shine discovered him and called 9-1-1. James died at Doernbecher Children&

s Hospital in Portland three days after his fall into the pool. Several people were at the home when the child drowned, but the mother was the only one charged, said Matt Chancellor, deputy district attorney for Jackson County.

The toddler&

s drowning is the third in less than a year to result in criminal charges against parents in Southern Oregon.

Crystal Ann Delap, 26, and her boyfriend, 52-year-old Steven John Hunt, are set to stand trial on Dec. 13 for the death of Delap&

s 2-year-old son, Stephen Randolph Horvath. The boy drowned Sept. — in an above-ground pool.

Kayla Christine LeMaster, 23, of Grants Pass, was sentenced to probation in May after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the death of her 13-month-old daughter, Janayah. The girl drowned Oct. 5 in a fountain at Callahan&

s Lodge south of Ashland off Interstate 5 after LeMaster fell asleep on the inn&

s lawn.

Panel to examine land use law


After months of wrangling about how to improve Measure 37, legislators were only able to agree that more study is needed. Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a bill Tuesday to create a task force that will perform the first comprehensive review of the statewide land use planning law since it was adopted in 1973.

Kulongoski, who traveled to fast-growing Central Oregon to sign the bill, said he supports the land use planning system, but the state needs to &

better communicate with Oregonians about land use &

why it is important to their lives, at home, at work and at play.

Measure 37, the new property compensation law passed by voters in November, requires governments to waive land use regulations or pay property owners if their land has been devalued by regulations adopted after they purchased the properties.

Opponents of the measure say governments &

lacking money to pay compensation &

might be forced to sweep aside restrictions that protect against sprawl. Robert Stacey, executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, the state&

s main land use planning watchdog, said the task force is a valuable way to help Oregon&

s overall planning for growth.

But Oregonians in Action, the property-rights groups that led the campaign for the ballot initiative, took a dimmer view of the study.


The Associated Press