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Steve Morasch

Steve C. Morasch


360-905-1433 Direct

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Professional Experience

Steve Morasch represents developers and landowners in the land use permitting process in both Oregon and Washington. He has experience in all aspects of land use planning in both states, including transportation planning, growth management and environmental issues. Mr. Morasch has also defeated court challenges to development approvals brought by state agencies and environmental groups in both Oregon and Washington.

Mr. Morasch was the lead counsel in the $6.5 million jury verdict against the City of Forest Grove for abuse of power in the construction permitting process. He has focused his court work on constitutional claims affecting landowner rights, including equal protection, free speech, due process, regulatory takings and exactions under Dolan/Koontz.

Professional & Community Activities

Mr. Morasch serves as Chair of the Clark County Planning Commission, and as a board member of the Responsible Growth Forum. He is a past member of the Industrial Lands Committee of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, and the Government Affairs Committee of the Clark County Association of Realtors. In addition, Mr. Morasch serves on several bar committees, including the legislative committee and the digest committee.

Awards and Recognition

Mr. Morasch is Peer Review Rated AV in Martindale-Hubbell. 
(AV®, BV® and CV® are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.)

Mr. Morasch has been the recipient of numerous awards, including an award from the Wall Street Journal and an award from Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. He has also received eight legal awards from American Jurisprudence. In 2005, Mr. Morasch was selected as a recipient of The Vancouver Business Journal's "Accomplished Under 40" Award, which honors young professionals who have distinguished themselves with a balance of accomplishments both in their profession and in the community at large.

Notable Cases

David Hill v. City of Forest Grove, 688 F. Supp. 2d 1193 (D. Or. 2010). Precedent-setting case involving constitutional claims for equal protection, due process and takings (both Dolan exactions and temporary takings). After developer obtained land use approval to build 215-lot subdivision, the City delayed the project in an effort to assist other more favored local developers and property owners. We sued the City in the Federal District Court of Oregon for civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. section 1983. After a monthlong trial, the jury found the City had violated David Hill's constitutional rights and awarded over $6,500,000 in damages.

Oregon Coastal Alliance v. City of Newport, __ LUBA __, LUBA No. 2013-057 (Nov. 6, 2013). Land use approval of Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) for proposed industrial development need not address geotechnical issues which can be addressed at the construction permitting stage.

Julian v. City of Vancouver, 161 Wash. App. 614, 255 P.3d 763 (2011). Established important principles of vested rights and the principle that functional isolation of wetlands does not require complete physical isolation in order to qualify for a reduced riparian setback. Also obtained an attorney fees award against the neighbors who challenged the development.

Marine Street LLC v. City of Astoria, 37 Or LUBA 587 (2000). Established that conditions of approval may be attached to a zoning code text amendment to limit allowed uses in order to comply with the state transportation planning rule that a zone change may not significantly affect a transportation facility.

Oregon Department of Transportation v. Coos County, 158 Or App 568, 976 P2d 68 (1999). Established that under a Level of Service standard, an increase in traffic in a substandard intersection that does not reduce the Level of Service by a full letter grade does not significantly affect a transportation facility under the state Transportation Planning Rule. As a result of this case, the Department of Land Conservation and Development rewrote the state Transportation Planning Rule and the Oregon Department of Transportation rewrote the Oregon Highway Plan to change the Level of Service standard to a volume capacity standard.

Department of Land Conservation and Development v. Coos County, 35 Or LUBA 285 (1998). Established that a property owner could obtain a non-exception rezone of Exclusive Farm Use land to rural residential upon a showing that the property did not qualify as farm or forestland as defined in Goals 3 and 4.

Franklin v. Deschutes County, 139 Or App 1, 911 P2d 339 (1996). Established important principles of standing and refined the meaning of "land use decision" under the statutory provisions governing LUBA review of land use decisions.

Bremer v. Josephine County, 138 Or App 511, 909 P2d 896 (1996) Land use appeal filed by 1000 Friends of Oregon on behalf of petitioner David Bremer dismissed for defective service.

Boldt & Boldt, 344 Or 1, 176 P3d 388 (2008). Pro bono amicus work for non-profit organization of doctors establishing that a minor child's wishes regarding elective surgery must be a factor taken into consideration by the courts when faced with a custody battle between two parents centering around the issue of whether to force the child to undergo elective surgery against the child's wishes.

Notable Projects

Oregon land use approval for a 12-inch natural gas pipeline crossing EFU and forestland through the Oregon coast range to extend natural gas service from the Williams pipeline to the Cities of Coos Bay, Coquille, Myrtle Point and Bandon.

Zoning code textual amendment to allow wholesale propane distribution as permitted use in the light industrial zone for properties served by rail.

Environmental and land use work for Washington ports, including SEPA and Shorelines Act permitting for new rail projects and marine terminals.

Shoreline work for private projects, including the Tidewater Cove mixed use project in Vancouver, WA.

Design Review (with modifications to the loading requirements) for the final phase of the Pioneer Place development in downtown Portland, including retail pavilion and skybridge.

Central City Parking Review to preserve parking rights created by the final phase of the Pioneer Place development.

Design Review for Tiffany's façade in the Pioneer Place development.

Conditional use and site plan review for multiple coastal condominium developments both in Oregon and Washington.

Subdivision, site plan review and planned residential development review for mixed use resort hotel, condominium and commercial center development in Government Camp.

Admitted to Practice
Washington State Courts
Oregon State Courts
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

"Government Condemnation of Property: The more things change the more they stay the same," Vancouver Business Journal, July 22, 2005
"Growth Management Act could be detrimental to business relocation," Vancouver Business Journal, May 27, 2005
"Land use regulations are moving target for developers," Vancouver Business Journal, March 25, 2005
"Business Voice needed in updates of land-use regulations," Vancouver Business Journal, June 14, 2004

Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College, Juris Doctor degree, summa cum laude (1992)
Willamette University, Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude (1989)
Clark College, Associate in Arts and Sciences degree (1987)

FEMA's Endangered Species Act Program Survives ‎Legal Challenge, October 29, 2014
Clarification or Land Grab? How EPA's Proposal to Redefine "Water" to Include Dry Land Expands Agency Jurisdiction Beyond Historical Limits, October 23, 2014
Despite Two Victories, the Battle Over Houseboat Marinas and Moorages Remains an ‎Open Political Question, August 4, 2014
How Would You Define "Water"?, April 3, 2014
New Supreme Court Decision Addresses Property Rights, June 28, 2013
New Senate Bill Changes Wetland Law in Oregon, March 20, 2012
National Wildlife Federation Files Second Suit Against FEMA, January 6, 2012
Sneak Preview of FEMA Waterfront Regulations in Oregon, June 9, 2011
FEMA Settles Oregon Lawsuit, More Regulations Coming To Water Front Uses, August 12, 2010
As Earth Day Turns 40, Shoreline Regulations Get Facelift, April 22, 2010
Stormwater Appeal In Clark County, Washington All Wet, February 5, 2010
Stormwater Rules Will Hinder City's Economic Development, May 15, 2009
Stormwater Regulations Could Leave Vancouver Vulnerable, March 30, 2009
New Washington State Stormwater Regulations Are Viewed as Unreasonable by Some Local Officials and Developers, March 3, 2009
Real Estate and Development: Rural Changes Coming for County Comprehensive Plan, October 13, 2008
Changes Headed for Highway 99, May 21, 2008
New Clark County Bank ‘Swamped’ With Business, May 31, 2007
Can Buses Compete With Light Rail?, February 20, 2007
Government Condemnation of Property: The more things change the more they stay the same, July 27, 2005
Growth Management Act could be detrimental to business relocation, June 3, 2005
Land use regulations are moving target for developers, March 25, 2005
Business voice needed in updates of land-use regulations, June 14, 2004
Court Decides New Regulatory Takings Case , March 1, 2004
New Supreme Court decision has implications for challenges to System Development Charges, April 1, 2003

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