Updates From the Circut

Meriel Darzen
Wed, 07/26/2017 - 1:30pm

Circuit Rider Attorney Meriel Darzen has been hard at work managing a series of high-profile land use cases with supportive legal services. Here are some of the cases you need to know about.

Hood River Waterfront by Darryl Lloyd

First win from the Circuit!

1000 Friends’ affiliate Hood River Valley Residents Committee, represented by Circuit Rider staff attorney Meriel Darzen, prevailed on their Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) appeal of a decision approving a 50-room hotel on rural industrial land in Hood River County. LUBA agreed with HRVRC that the County had failed to follow the applicable rules. These rules require the applicant to apply for new land use Goal exceptions to allow the hotel to be built on land originally zoned for timber-related industrial uses. The hotel would have interfered with local farming and orchard operations located in rural Hood River County.

As 1000 Friends’ board member and HRVRC president, Mike McCarthy, states:

This means the Dee site is saved for what was always intended there: a rural industrial site that fits our community and provides year-round better paying jobs,”

Stop the Dump goes to the Supreme Court

In our May Oregon Stories, we told you about the amicus brief we filled on behalf of the Stop the Dump campaign and the work being done to curtail the expansion of a landfill over farmland. The opponents of the landfill were filing an appeal following the latest decision from LUBA to let the dump move forward.

The Oregon Supreme Court has accepted review of the Stop the Dump v. Yamhill County case, an important case involving impacts to farm and forestland from non-resource uses, such as landfills and surface mines. 1000 Friends will be submitting an amicus curaie brief on the merits of the case, along with the Farm Bureau.

Two new appeals filed

1000 Friends appealed Jackson County’s decision to approve an 80-acre solar array on high-

Solar Park Aldersbach, Windwarts Energie, Creative Commons 

value farmland. The land in question is prime farmland with Class I soils that is currently cultivated with food crops and represents some of the best soils in the region. Under current rules, only 12 acres of solar panels are allowed on a property containing high-value farmland. In this case, the applicant, OR Solar 7 LLC, requested an exception to the rules to build panels on 80 acres. 1000 Friends believes that the applicant for the solar array has not met the criteria for an exception in this case and has appealed the County’s decision to LUBA.

1000 Friends supports renewable sources of energy, like solar power, to address climate change by reducing fossil fuel use. Solar energy is also a good economic development driver for Oregon.  However, we do not support developing solar on our best farmland. Oregon can support both solar power and food production. These vital needs can be accomplished simultaneously through Oregon's land use program, which calls for balancing different policy objectives. Oregon has many areas of nonproductive or already impacted lands, like brownfields, landfills and road rights-of-way, where solar panels can be accommodated. We also look forward to future developments in solar energy that will allow solar arrays to be co-located with farming without impacting the land.  We are working to ensure the beneficial outcomes of addressing climate change and protecting the land critical for food and fiber production. For a detailed look at our recommendations, read our white paper on solar siting in Oregon.

In another Southern Oregon case, our affiliate group Rogue Advocates has filed an appeal of Josephine County’s decision that it does not have jurisdiction to regulate placer mining[i] in riparian areas on forestland. We believe it does have jurisdiction, and it should more actively work to protect these critical water resources. Brimstone Natural Resource Company, a mining company that has been plagued with other state law violations, applied to the County to conduct placer mining in a stream on forestland in the Rogue River watershed. Rogue Advocates has been working closely with the Circuit Rider to develop this appeal.

Advocacy to stop a gas pipeline on farmland

As part of a coalition with Columbia Riverkeeper, CRAG Law Center and several local farmers, 1000 Friends will be submitting comments opposing the proposed 837-acre rezone of farmland in Columbia County for industrial development at Port Westward, with a primary goal of exporting crude oil. [MD5] The controversial proposal, which has already been remanded once by LUBA, implicates the impacts of energy development and transportation on productive farmland and sensitive watersheds.

[i] Placer Mining is the mining of stream bed deposits for minerals. Typically it is used to mine precious metals and gemstones.