Court of Appeals Reaffirms Balanced Approach for McMinnville UGB Expansion

This week, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling that clearly reaffirms a balanced approach toward protecting vital Yamhill County farmlands while allowing for appropriate growth for the City of McMinnville. The Court reversed the Land Conservation and Development Commission's previous approval of a McMinnville's proposed urban growth boundary expansion (UGB), which included over 800 acres of top-quality farmland.

Stating that the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) did not adequately demonstrate McMinnville's need to expand onto all the farmland it desired, the Court ruled in favor of the position of 1000 Friends of Oregon and Friends of Yamhill County, who had brought the appeal. 

In response to this decision, 1000 Friends and Friends of Yamhill County issued this joint press release:

1000 Friends and Friends of Yamhill County are gratified that the Court of Appeals has overturned approval of McMinnville's Urban Growth Boundary expansion. Our organizations support McMinnville's efforts to proactively plan for its future and there are many areas proposed for its UGB expansion that we did not oppose. 

However, farmland is not undeveloped land waiting for urbanization. It is already-developed industrial land that supports what is, by some measures, the leading industry in Yamhill County. The expansion adopted by the city included nearly 800 acres of top-quality farmland. There is no need to expand the UGB onto some of the region's and state's best farmland--land that is part of Yamhill County's rich and diverse agricultural industry.

The Oregon land use program recognizes that agriculture is one of the state's top industries, and that unnecessary urban sprawl on the state's best farm land hurts that industry and the working landscape that defines what is "Oregon."  Yamhill County and its neighbors, Marion, Washington, and Clackamas Counties, rank eighth, first, fourth, and fifth, among all Oregon counties in gross farm and ranch sales with over $1.5 billion in direct 2008 receipts. Area farmers provide thousands of jobs and indirectly support tens of thousands more.

The Court of Appeals decision upholds the land use program by reaffirming that urban and rural land uses must be balanced: the state's best farm land is the last resort an urban growth boundary expansion, and a city must adequately justify needing that farmland before taking it.  Here, the court found that the Land Conservation & Development Commission did not demonstrate that McMinnville needed all the farm land it proposed to urbanize.

We look forward to working with the city to achieve a more appropriate urban expansion.

For more information, contact:
Sid Friedman
Friends of Yamhill County
(503) 852-6693

Update, July 28: As reported by the McMinnville News-Register, the City of McMinnville intends to appeal the Court's decision.