Oregon Communities

For a Voice In Annexations

Promoting and Protecting Citizen Involvement in Land Use Issues

  About OCVA
Mission & history
Officers & board
Member cities
  Issues and initiatives
Voting on annexations
ORS 195 annexations
SDC reform
Controlling growth
SLAPP suits
  Join OCVA!
  OCVA in the news
Legislative scorecards
  Member services
Change address
Alert list
  Contact us

Voting on Annexations...

Excerpts From Case Law

Information provided by Oregon Communities For A Voice In Annexations


Oregon’s highest courts (Appeals & Supreme) have repeatedly held that voter approval (or rejection) of discretionary annexations is a key part of the annexation process. “Discretionary” annexations are those not required by state law (e.g., “island” annexations and annexations due to health hazard are required annexations).

Case law has made it clear that discretionary annexation is a two-part process. The first part of the process is “quasi-judicial” wherein a governing body (typically a city council), after conducting all required studies and planning, determines that a proposed annexation meets all legal criteria and therefore CAN occur.

The second part of the process is “political,” wherein the electorate decides if the proposed annexation SHOULD occur. This action is neither governed by, nor subject to Oregon land use law. Excerpts from three key cases follow:

Bear Creek Valley Sanitary Authority vs. City of Medford (880 P.2d 486, 488-9 Or. App. 1994)

“The decision by a city or other governing body that proposes an annexation is an act of planning that must comply with the land use laws. However, the subsequent acts that are necessary to finally adopt or reject the proposal, generally a popular vote...are not controlled by nor subject to the land use laws.”

Heritage Enterprises vs. Corvallis (708 P.2d 601 (OR. 1985))

“The separate decision of the electorate whether to annex, as opposed to the determination whether the proposed annexation would comply with the comprehensive plan, was not a ‘land use decision’ within the meaning of ORS chapter 197.” (Note: “Heritage” was a challenge of the first voter annexation charter amendment, passed by Corvallis in 1976. The decision upheld the charter amendment.)

Gile vs. McIver (831 P.2d 1024, 1026 (Or. App. 1992))

“The annexation and incorporation cases differ in a significant respect from this one (a zone change). They deal with processes that entail two decisions: a land use decision by the governing body and, assuming that it is affirmative, a later and separate ‘political’ decision by the voters that does not depend on land use requirements.”

See also Petersen vs. Klamath Falls, (566 P.2d 1193, 1196 Or. 1977), and Stewart vs. Corvallis, (617 P.2d 921, 922 (Or. App. 1980)).

This page last modified on 2005-09-19 08:39.