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Back to the drawing board

Flaws in the county's land-use law are a tiny sliver of a solid document

We're not surprised that Jackson County's new land-use ordinance was overturned by a state appeals board. Considering that the document was 700 pages long and covered all the land-use laws enforced in the county, perhaps we would have been surprised if it weren't returned for corrections. But those corrections do not diminish the work done to create this guide that will help determine where and how the county grows.

The Land Use Board of Appeals last week rejected the county's land development ordinance package that was finished earlier this year, finding the county had misstepped on two larger issues and a few technical areas. That means planners, and the public, will have another crack at the document, likely between now and the end of the year.

LUBA found two larger issues needing remedy: The county needed to better identify places where destination resorts could be located and it could not allow some improperly divided parcels to become legal lots.

While the resort issue is already being addressed by the county, the issue surrounding about 100 improperly created parcels is a sticky one. Essentially, the county looked the other way two decades ago when some property owners improperly divided their rural lots to create more homesites.

LUBA said, and rightly so, that the county cannot now bestow legal status on lots that were illegally created in the first place. This could create nightmare situations for some property owners, but the state is right in not condoning the initial property divisions.

Despite those setbacks, the document remains a major step forward for Jackson County, by consolidating and clarifying a collection of land-use rules that have built up over the past three-plus decades. It took three years of staff work, public hearings and long hours by citizen planning commission members to craft the document.

— The county should move quickly to fix the flaws pointed out by LUBA. But county residents should remember that those flaws represent only a tiny fraction of an important document that will help guide development and safeguard our quality of life for decades to come.

Bring them home

The Army dropped the ball when it required wounded soldiers from Oregon to convalesce at Fort Lewis, Wash., and other bases rather than return to Oregon to get well.

Forty-nine National Guard soldiers from Oregon are being treated at Army bases around the nation for wounds suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq ' some because they need specialized care, but others because the Army had no system to allow them to return home.

There's little doubt that the wounded Guard members would convalesce better if they were at home, or, at the very least, at a facility nearer their homes.

The problem stems from the Army policy of returning wounded soldiers to the base from which they deployed. For regular Army troops, that means home.

But Guard soldiers sent overseas deploy from an active duty base, often far from where they live and train.

The Army owes these brave soldiers better treatment than they have received. Oregon Guard officials are calling on the Pentagon to address this disparity. The top brass should step up and fix the problem.