1965 Oregon Supreme Court case: Garden Home

An important court case involving Garden Home regarded the property where the current LDS Church is located. In the 1960s, Schwager-Wood wanted to build a factory where the Mormon Church now sits, right next to the Multnomah County line between Garden Home Road and Multnomah Boulevard.  Ron Lansing donated his services as the lawyer for the home owners. Here’s a short, short take on that which is an excerpt from the Multnomah County history I’m currently working on that will be published by the OSU Press next year.

In 1964, with the moral support and an amicus statement from Multnomah County planners, citizens on both sides of the Multnomah–Washington County line challenged a three-to-two Washington County Commission vote (overruling their own planning commission) to rezone four and a half acres between Southwest Multnomah Boulevard and Garden Home Road from residential to industrial. The zone change would have allowed Schwager-Wood Company to build an electrical equipment factory on land abutting Multnomah County and zoned residential on both sides of the line.

Washington County Chair Clayton Nyberg told visitors, “I am the zoning law in Washington County” – a boast firmly deflated when the Oregon Supreme Court, in the landmark Smith vs. Washington County, ruled unanimously in 1965 that the Washington County Commission had acted “capriciously and arbitrarily” in allowing the factory. It was the most egregious case of spot zoning they had ever seen, the court said.[i] The site is today home to a Mormon church at 6605 SW Garden Home Road.

[i] Oregon Journal, Feb 26 and 29, 1964; July 1 and Sept 29, 1965.

I am sending a copy of this email to Ron and to Colin Dunkeld, former Headmaster of Catlin-Gabel Lower School and former PSU professor. Colin was one of the homeowners in the area who went door-to-door to get neighbors to sign petitions and donate to the cost of paying for a transcript of the lower court opinion that was appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. (Also see Ron and Jewel Lansing under Short Stories)

By Jewel Lansing www.jewellansing.com Oct. 2011, in consultation with Elaine Shreve.

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