FORREST BEHIND THE TREES
The Tom and Doris Dodd Story.
In 1983, Tom and Doris Dodd purchased a 40-acre parcel of property in Hood River County,
Oregon for $33,000 to build their retirement home. "It was perfect," says Tom Dodd. "Quiet,
pristine. Doris and I decided right then that this would be the ideal place to build our
dream house after I retired."
Or so they thought.
At the time of the purchase, the property was zoned for a single-family dwelling.
But in 1984, the county rezoned the property to "Exclusive Forest Use." Officials didn't
even tell the Dodds of the rezoning. Under the new zoning rules, the Dodds could only use
their property for growing and harvesting timber. The only way the Dodds could build a house
is if they became full-time foresters who absolutely needed to have a house on the property.
Tom Dodd, who retired from the Air Force in 1988 and had no interest in forestry, said that
not only was the rezoning totally unfair, it didn't make any sense. "I couldn't even sell
this parcel to someone who wanted to run a forestry business." It seems a forest expert
appraised the property for its resell value and concluded that a timber operation on the
Dodds' land would not be economically possible or environmentally-sound. As a result of the
rezoning, the value of the Dodds' property plummeted from $33,000 to only $700.
The Dodds filed a lawsuit against Hood County demanding that it compensate them for this
regulatory taking. For six years, the Dodds waged a legal battle. They lost in state court
but continued their challenge in federal court. But a federal district court judge threw
the case out on the grounds that their federal constitutional challenge should have been
brought in state court. Eventually, the Dodds got their case back to federal court. When it
did, the county gave in and agreed to grant the Dodds a land use permit for their home.
But the Dodds continued their legal challenge demanding compensation for loss of the
property for more than six years. Unfortunately, a federal court of appeals ruled against
the Dodds and in October 1998 the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review their case.
Source: Pacific Legal Foundation
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