Stop the Dump: 1000 Friends files an amicus brief

Meriel Darzen
Tue, 05/30/2017 - 11:30am

1000 Friends has filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief asking the Oregon Supreme Court to review a recent Court of Appeals decision that will impact farmland across the state. 

State law bars a non-farm use like a landfill from expanding onto farmland if the expansion will have "significant" impacts on area farms.  In approving an expansion of a local landfill on farmland, 

Yamhill County found that the landfill could mitigate any impacts by compensating farmers for any harm to their farms.  For example, when a farmer demonstrated that his hay would be contaminated with litter from the landfill, instead of denying or limiting the landfill operation, the County allowed the landfill to pay for litter patrols on the field. The case was appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) and then to the Oregon Court of Appeals (COA).  
 
In a somewhat confusing decision, Stop the Dump v. Yamhill County, the COA upheld the County's approval of the landfill. The court based its decision on a new interpretation of state law, holding that the law forbade only those impacts that "will significantly decrease the supply of agricultural land, the profitability of the farm, or the provision of food."  Relying on this standard, the COA ruled that the landfill operators could legally buy its way out the law's prohibitions by paying the surrounding farmers for the loss of their crops. The court's interpretation will make it very difficult for individual farmers to prevent impacts to their land from nearby non-farm uses.
 
The COA decision substantially changes the way Oregon law works to protect farmland. 1000 Friends' amicus brief asks the Oregon Supreme Court to review the COA decision and reconsider the COA's interpretation. The Oregon Farm Bureau has also submitted an amicus brief asking for a review as well.