EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- A Eugene conservation group is prepared to ask the state to intervene unless Lane County addresses concerns raised about the handling of development and land use proposals.

LandWatch, which works to protect farm and forest lands and natural areas, recently told the county it will ask for the state's help unless the county starts meeting timelines and other procedural requirements for development applications, The Register-Guard ( ) reported Sunday.

LandWatch President Robert Emmons said the county has developed a pattern of failing to meet a 150-day timeline for final action on development applications and zone change requests. Applications unaddressed by the county typically end up in Lane County Circuit Court for resolution. That can be a time-consuming and expensive process that disenfranchises opponents such as LandWatch, Emmons said.

"If this happens once in a blue moon, you'd want to look at why the deadline was extended or not met," Emmons said. "But if you're starting to see this happen more often ... that starts to indicate a pattern or practice" of noncompliance with state requirements.

Kent Howe, the head of the county planning department, disagrees with issues raised by the conservation group. He said the county has changed its processing of applications while incorporating the recommendations of conservation groups, including LandWatch.

He said the county board in 2009 adopted planning rules that LandWatch and Goal One members helped draw up as part of a focus group.

"We've made amendments to the code -- not all the amendments they want, but amendments to the code," Howe said. "(We've also) changed our practices and the way we void applications after they become delinquent. Basically, we have addressed their concerns."

LandWatch cites four cases. But Howe said four cases out of 3,000 doesn't amount to a pattern or practice on noncompliance with state requirements.


Information from: The Register-Guard,

Copyright 2011 The AP.

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