Deschutes County approves ‘lot of record’ amendment

From The Bulletin, Published Nov. 1, 2017

“More than a year after a state land-use decision changed the way Deschutes County establishes legal lots, the Deschutes County Commission approved an amendment to county code to streamline the process.

Until September 2016, Deschutes County treated properties that had been issued building, septic or land use permits as “legal lots of record,” lots or parcels that meet specific requirements that Deschutes County has deemed suitable for development. However, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals ruled on Sept. 29, 2016, that the permits alone don’t constitute a legal lot designation. Consequently, some county residents were forced to go through a time-consuming, expensive process of proving that their properties were legally established before they could sell or update them.”

According to a Bulletin article published June 3, 2017, “the process for proving a legal lot of record varies in complexity, but it often requires a large fee, at the very least. The fee to file a mandatory land use application is $925, even if a property owner can verify that his or her property was established legally and it can take 10 weeks or more for a verification request to be processed. Peter Gutowsky, Planning Manager, states the fee reflects the average cost to the county from reviewing deeds and providing public notice to the neighbors. While he acknowledged the financial challenge that the fee places on residents who followed the rules to the best of their knowledge, Gutowsky said the community development department had no way of lifting the fee at this time.”

From the Deschutes County website, “The amendments to county code clarify that rural property owners do not need to go through the lot of record verification process if Deschutes County has previously issued them a land use, building, or septic permit. The approved amendment also provides an official definition of a legal lot of record, and lays out rules for owners of parcels to apply for a permit if their parcel does not meet the definition. A legal lot of record is a lot or parcel that was lawfully established with any rules (partition, subdivision, minimum lot sizes, etc.) that were in effect at the time of its creation. Rural property owners must verify that their tax lot is a legal lot of record before the county will issue land use, building, or septic permits.”

The Brundage Smith team recently attended a seminar put on by Deschutes County and our takeaway message was that this issue becomes very important when dealing with bare land. Lot of Record verification may be necessary prior to the issuance of any land use decisions, building permits or septic permits. As a buyer, you would want to verify that the parcel is a legal lot of record during your due diligence period rather than after you’ve closed and start applying for permits, only to get denied because your parcel isn’t a legal lot of record.

One thing to be aware of is that this is not covered by your Title Insurance policy, which means if you discover that your parcel is not a legal lot of record, your title insurance company will not pay loss or damage, costs, attorneys’ fees, or expenses that arise.

Additional information about lots of record is available on the Deschutes County website: Commissioners Approve Lot of Record Amendments

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