A Clatsop County Circuit Court judge on Thursday vacated a writ of mandamus motion filed by Oregon Pipeline LLC against Clatsop County.

The action by Judge Cindee Matyas effectively puts an end to the company's motion, which sought immediate approval for its consolidated land-use application for the construction of 41 miles of natural gas pipeline. A hearing scheduled for Friday morning in front of Matyas on the motion has been cancelled.

At the March 9 hearing the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners gave preliminary approval to a new set of findings that would result in the application's denial. The board is currently scheduled to review the draft findings and possibly approve them at a special meeting March 30.

The board of commissioners originally voted in November to approve the application. The ruling was appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals by project opponents, and in January the board, with three new members, elected to withdraw the November decision in order to reconsider the application.

On March 4 Oregon Pipeline filed a request for a writ of mandamus with the court seeking immediate approval of its application. The motion argues that the county has missed the legal deadline for taking final action on the application. If local jurisdictions fail to act on an application within the required timeframe, applicants can seek to have a circuit court order the application to be approved.

Matyas signed the writ and set a hearing for March 18 to hear from attorneys for the county and the applicant. On Thursday, she rescinded her signature and cancelled the hearing.

Oregon Pipeline also claims that, once Matyas signed the writ on March 4, the application came under the official jurisdiction of the court, and that the county had no authority to hold its hearing March 9. No representative from the company attended that hearing.

At this point, Clatsop County is proceeding with the review process, including the March 30 meeting, until it receives direction to do otherwise from its legal counsel, according to County Manager Duane Cole.

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