Miller Nash Assists Portland Playhouse, Appeals Land Use Decision

03.28.12

Community Theater Granted Permission to Remain in Current Location

PORTLAND, Ore. (March 28, 2012) – Miller Nash LLP attorney William Rasmussen helped pro bono client Portland Playhouse secure the right to remain in a 105-year-old church that it had converted into a community arts center and theater.

The nonprofit theater began serving the Northeast Portland’s King neighborhood four years ago, but in May, 2011, received a notice from the city to cease activities because the old church building was in a residential zone. The Playhouse argued that they were allowed as a “community service” use but, a city hearing officer rejected the theater’s land use application and instead ruled that plays were inherently a “retail and sales services” use, which is prohibited in residential zones.

Together with Miller Nash attorneys Elisa Dozono and Kelly Hossaini, Rasmussen appealed the decision on behalf of Portland Playhouse, and the Portland City Council reversed the decision. Numerous community members spoke at the appeal hearing, revealing the depth of the theater’s support and importance to the community.

“When Portland Playhouse approached us about the possibility of taking it on as a pro bono client, we were immediately interested,” said Rasmussen. “Miller Nash is committed to continued involvement within the community, and we are proud to be working with organizations with such social impact and reach as Portland Playhouse.”

“Will provided a tremendous service to Portland, using the forum of city council to strengthen the case of art as community service,” said Brian Weaver, artistic director for Portland Playhouse. “We have been so fortunate to work with the Miller Nash team, who helped us navigate the extensive zoning process.”

Rasmussen, who joined Miller Nash as an associate in 2006, specializes in land use and real estate transactions. He represents public entities, businesses and individual clients in land use planning, permitting and development-related matters. He has been selected for inclusion in Oregon Super Lawyers magazine as a rising star in real estate and land use/zoning law.

Rasmussen is chair of the Oregon Business Association’s Good Government Committee, and he has been involved in civic affairs in Oregon for many years.

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