Some projects will involve a Pre-Application with the applicable jurisdiction prior to filing. Sometimes this is required by the local code and other times it is just a good idea to get the local planner’s thoughts on key criteria or other project issues. CSA will advise the client if a Pre-Application is necessary or appropriate.
Once any Pre-Applications are complete and all necessary evidence is in a solid draft form, CSA will undertake the formal application preparation process. This is typically where most of CSA’s work is undertaken on land use permit projects. CSA has a standard format for most land use permit submittals that describes the overall nature and scope of the project, lists the evidence submitted with the application, identifies and recites the applicable criteria, offers findings of fact to describe the factual circumstances upon which a land use decision can be rendered, and proposes conclusions of law that can be adopted by the local government if it approves the application. This standard format provides the jurisdiction with a thorough submittal and allows them to rely on the application submittal for their respective reviews. At the end of this process, CSA will finalize its document and work with the team to get all supporting evidence finalized in a format appropriate for submittal.
The next step in the process is Application submittal and review. In Oregon, the jurisdiction has 30 days to review the application to determine if it is complete. Occasionally, the jurisdiction will identify some additional information that is requested and CSA makes every effort to respond to those issues as quickly as possible. From the time an application is deemed complete, cities have 120 days to render a final local land use decision and counties have 150 days. Most land use permits require a hearing. A staff report will be issued at least 7 days prior to the hearing. Most land use permits that are approved have conditions of approval attached to them. CSA reviews proposed conditions of approval and makes every effort to identify conditions of approval that might be problematic of implementing the use or development. Where problematic conditions of approval are identified, CSA works with the planning staff prior to the hearing in an attempt to reach agreement on condition language that is acceptable to the client and the jurisdiction. If the staff report contains recommendations or conclusions of law to which we fundamentally disagree and are material to the project, our philosophy is to let the staff planners know that we have a professional disagreement. “Surprise” disagreements with the planning staff at a hearing is not desirable and we work to avoid those situations.
At the hearing, CSA will advocate for approval of the land use permit and respond to questions of the decision making body. CSA will also respond to public testimony in opposition to the permit.
If the land use permit is denied, the Client may elect to appeal that decision (such as to the City Council, a Hearings Officer, or the County Commissioners depending on the local government appeal procedures). Approvals can also be appealed by project opponents. CSA will provide litigation support at the request of the client’s land use attorney to address issues on appeal.