Group still refining land rights’ initiative |

Group still refining land rights’ initiative

The third time may be the charm for a property owner claims initiative that’s come across the Nevada County counsel’s desk twice.

County Counsel Charles McKee’s first approved an initiative Aug. 8 submitted by the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners that asked that Nevada County property owners be compensated if their land is devalued due to county regulations.

But proponents, reorganized as the Citizens for Fair and Balanced Land Use, tightened the proposed initiative on the advice of land-use attorneys and resubmitted a revised version Dec. 14. McKee was required to return a ballot title and summary to County Clerk-Recorder Lorraine Jewett-Burdick by Dec. 31, or reject it.

“I was really happy they filed that during the holidays,” McKee quipped.

McKee returned the proposed initiative Dec. 31, but stated that the proposal was unclear on several points.

Russell Steele, chairman of the coordinating committee that submitted the initiative, said the group would consult with an unnamed local attorney to reword and resubmit the initiative they hope to put on the November ballot.

The group is not required to revise the initiative, McKee said.

“But when I read the proposed initiative, the uncertainties in it made it difficult to summarize,” he said Monday.

He said the proposed initiative did not state clearly whether aggrieved landowners would be required to present a claim to the county before going to court, or whether the property owner may go directly to court to seek payment for lost land use.

Steele said the authors made it perfectly clear landowners must go to the county first, and that county officials are playing games with private property rights advocates.

“That’s OK,” Steele said. “We’ll reword it so it’s very clean and resubmit it sometime next week.”

Proponents must gather signatures of 10 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the November 1998 gubernatorial election – or 3,896 signatures – within 180 days of the county counsel’s preparation of a ballot title and summary to get the measure on the general election ballot.

If the group collects 7,792 signatures – 20 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the November 1998 gubernatorial election – the Board of Supervisors is required to schedule a special election for the initiative.

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