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The controversial Historic District plan for Eastmoreland remains in legal limbo....

DAVID F. ASHTON - The two sides in the dispute are still waiting for a ruling.While efforts for a Laurelhurst National Historic District nomination appear to be on track to be submitted to the National Parks Service (NPS) early in 2019, progress for a similar Eastmoreland nomination remains stalled.

Eastmoreland neighbors, both for and against the proposed designation, say they've waited for months for some kind of notification from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), but none has been forthcoming.

The project's webpage hasn't been updated, and with no word from the SHPO about the progress of Eastmoreland's nomination since last June, THE BEE checked in with the Bureau to learn where the project stands.

After contacting all state officials and workers involved with this nomination, OPRD Associate Director Chris Havel replied to our inquiry on November 29:

"Staff in the State Historic Preservation Office are reviewing documents related to the Eastmoreland National Historic District nomination, to prepare it for eventual resubmission to the National Park Service.

"The nomination was returned by the NPS to the Oregon SHPO to ascertain ownership using a combination of federal rules and guidelines, Oregon law, and Oregon Department of Justice guidance. At the moment, staff work is focused on researching and resolving any issues related to objections provided by owners within the district boundary.

"This matter may be affected by two lawsuits against the State regarding this nomination: Blum v. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Marion County Circuit Court #18CV25307; and Tom Brown v. Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Court of Appeals #A165691.

"Because of uncertainty created by the lawsuits, staff are unable to estimate a timeframe for resubmitting the nomination to the National Park Service, but may be able to do so as the suits proceed further."

Reacting to this information, Derek Blum of "Historic Eastmoreland Achieving Results Together" wrote THE BEE, The SHPO and the larger Oregon Parks & Rec Department have mismanaged the Eastmoreland Historic District nomination from the beginning. More than two years into this process, we still seem very far from having a clear resolution on the matter." Blum favors the Historic District plan.

The main issue of concern to HEART, Blum said, is the state allowing "objections from 5,000 fabricated trusts from only five individuals. It's clear that without these manufactured objections, Eastmoreland would have our Historic District designation from the National Park Service. We look forward to SHPO reconsidering its decision to allow these highly irregular objections that undercut the National Register program."

Tom Brown, of "Keep Eastmoreland Free", which opposes the Historic District, told us, "With two pending court cases, it won't be appropriate for SHPO to send it back to the National Parks Service until these cases are settled."

Brown said he went to an Oregon Court of Appeals Hearing on October 30. "From the questions the three judges asked, they obviously knew a great deal about the case; and, when they listened to our replies, I felt like the judges were really listening. We're just waiting to see what the courts decide."

Don't hold your breath.

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