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The Bill and June Hackett Story.

 Over 20 years ago, Bill and June Hackett paid $65,000 for a 2.3-acre parcel of property in Portland, Oregon. They planned to sell the property to supplement their retirement income. But in 1991, these plans were dashed by local regulations.

Hackett wanted to sell the property, which had increased in value to $200,000. But Multnomah County officials rejected the necessary building permit, saying it was zoned for commercial forest use. This designation prohibits construction of homes. The Hacketts were angered upon hearing this news because there was no regulation in effect prohibiting construction when they purchased the property.

But Hackett, a retired Army Major who was a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, was not about to take this injustice lying down. For the next eight years, he waged a determined struggle to assert his property rights. The Hacketts went to numerous county commission hearings in an effort to persuade commissioners to change their ruling but were stymied each time. These hearings each cost $500 plus other legal costs, forcing the Hacketts to spend $20-$30,000.

What frustrated the Hacketts the most about their situation is that their property is a forested site with houses on three sides. Down the street, a neighbor was allowed to sell her 10 acres for $650,000. But the county and local environmentalists argue that allowing the Hacketts to build on their land would damage fish and other wildlife on a nearby creek.

Dave Hunnicut of Oregonians In Action, a property rights group assisting Mrs. Hackett, says the county's real goal is not to protect the environment but to stop further housing development. For example, the county would allow the Hacketts to chop down all the trees on the site and sell the lumber as firewood. Yet the county will not approve June Hackett's proposed house even though it would have been far more attractive environmentally.

The case has taken its toll on the couple. Mr. Hackett died at the age of 80 in 1999. "The frustration for my husband was just incredible," says June Hackett, who has vowed to carry on the fight.
Source: Oregonians In Action