It appeared as if the nomination application by which a large portion of the Eastmoreland neighborhood would become a federally-recognized "Historic District" might be cleared to move forward on August 9, when the Oregon State Court of Appeals gave their "response" to litigation begun by Eastmoreland resident Tom Brown.
But, when no new information was posted by the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) on the "Oregon Parks & Recreation Department: Oregon Heritage: National Register: Eastmoreland" webpage for days after August 9, THE BEE started looking into where the matter stood.
"The short answer is that nothing new has happened; motions are being filed back and forth," said Oregon Parks & Recreation Historian Ian Johnson. "So, we're 'on hold' until we hear from our legal department from the Oregon Department of Justice; and, there isn't a new date for when this will be resolved."
Tom Brown's attorney, Nathan Morales of the Harrang Long Gary Rudnick law firm, spoke with THE BEE on August 16 and provided information about the status of the case.
"On August 9, SHPO filed its 'final reply' to the motion to dismiss," Morales said. "In that reply, they raised a new issue, related to the recent letter from the National Parks Service to SHPO.
"In addition, SHPO also filed a "Notice of Probable Mootness", arguing that the Oregon Parks Service's letter to SHPO rendered the entire case moot," Morales continued.
As a result of those two things, the following day, the law firm filed a "sur-reply", a post-brief reply added to a legal motion, along with a response to the "Notice of Probably Mootness" rebutting the assertions regarding the Parks Service's letter, Morales said.
In summary, Morales said there are three different motions in front of the court at this time:
1. Motion for a stay filed by his law firm;
2. Motion to dismiss filed by SHPO
3. Notice of probable mootness
"SHPO has asked the court to dismiss the case," Morales said. "One of the main things we're asking for in this case is a 'contested case hearing'. We believe that the nomination procedure is a 'contested case'; but if the SHPO motion to dismiss is accepted, we wouldn't qualify for a contested case hearing because it wouldn't qualify as a contested case.
"What it comes down to is whether or not this is, or is this not, a contested case; if it is, we get a hearing, if not, the court dismisses our case," Morales clarified. "If the Court of Appeals does not accept this as a contested case, we have other avenues to move forward on this case."
While "orders" on "motions" come out of the Court of Appeals fairly quickly, an "opinion" may not come out for a longer time. "This could be a matter of weeks, because it so complicated," Morales concluded.
Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association Board President Rod Merrick commented, "The problem the opposition [to the Eastmoreland Historic District] is facing right now, is that the objections are substantially behind [in quantity], as reported in Derek Blum's Letter to the Editor, published in the July issue of THE BEE.
"Presumably, at some time, there will be an Eastmoreland Historic District, and we're looking forward to that," Merrick added.