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July 14, 2006 County on lookout for fraudulent Measure 37 claims By Damian Mann For The Tidings To avoid potential fraud, Jackson County will closely scrutinize Measure 37 claims after recent difficulty in obtaining notarized signatures from

County on lookout for fraudulent Measure 37 claims

To avoid potential fraud, Jackson County will closely scrutinize Measure 37 claims after recent difficulty in obtaining notarized signatures from landowners.

“We want to watch out for skullduggery behind the scenes,” said Commissioner Dave Gilmour at a Wednesday board meeting.

In one recent instance, an attorney wouldn’t provide signatures of property owners in a claim, raising questions about its validity.

Gilmour said the county also doesn’t want to find itself in a difficult legal position in which property owners object to an approved Measure 37 claim because they never signed the county documents.

Approved by voters in November 2004, Measure 37 gives property owners the right to ask a government agency to either pay for lost land value because of zoning changes or provide a waiver of the offending land-use regulation.

Many Measure 37 claims have multiple property owners involved, including some from out of state, creating difficulties in obtaining all signatures.

County Counsel Doug McGeary said the county had been requiring notarized signatures, but the question was raised recently whether it was necessary in all cases.

A Portland attorney who represents six local property owners refused to provide the necessary signatures and the claim was denied, said McGeary.

He said there have been problems with other claims, citing one instance in which it wasn’t clear whether an elderly landowner had agreed to let her family file a Measure 37 claim on her behalf. The claim was eventually withdrawn.

McGeary said other real estate transactions require notarized signatures, so he determined that it applies to Measure 37 claims. Otherwise, he said, it could leave the door open to abuse or forgery. The county has received 250 Measure 37 claims to date, but has bumped into problems determining ownership and transferring title.

Because the date of acquisition is important in determining what, if any, zoning laws apply to the property, the county has spent hours doing title searches. McGeary, whose office has budgeted $38,000 to process claims, said the county will no longer do the research needed to check the history of tax lots and deeds.

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