Skip to Content

Oregon court: Developers can’t pay to offset harm to farmers


SALEM, Ore. (AP) – The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that negative impacts on Oregon’s farmers from non-farm development can’t be offset by making payments.

The Capital Press reported Friday that the court also ruled this week that it’s not enough for a development to avoid taking away agriculturally-zoned land. A project also can’t change costs or agricultural practices for farmers.

The ruling settles a lawsuit filed over a planned expansion of a landfill in Yamhill County that would affect nearby farms and orchards.

Waste Management, the owner of the Riverbend Landfill, is reviewing the Oregon Supreme Court’s ruling.

The ruling doesn’t block the landfill expansion but remands the case to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.

News release from 1000 Friends of Oregon:

Supreme Court ruling a victory for local farmers in Yamhill County

1000 Friends of Oregon participated in the case alongside Stop the Dump Coalition

On February 28, 2019, the Oregon Supreme Court issued its decision in Stop the Dump Coalition v. Yamhill County, the latest chapter in the efforts of local farmers, wineries, and activists to stop the expansion of the Riverbend Landfill onto farmland.

The Supreme Court’s decision addresses the impacts of the landfill on neighboring farms, including a U-Pick berry operation and hay farm. The Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeals opinion which had held that the landfill could mitigate the negative impacts on the farms by simply paying off the farmers, even where even where the entire farm operation (in this case, the U-Pick berry operation) would be forced out of business entirely. Instead the Supreme Court held that the County must analyze whether, regardless of any payment from the applicant to the farmer, the new use will cause the farmer to change the way they farm or increase their costs.

“We’re thrilled with the decision,” says Kathryn Jernstedt, President of Friends of Yamhill County, who participated in the case. ” Despite what Yamhill County maintained, the court made it crystal clear that the garbage dump can’t buy its way out of the significant impacts it causes to nearby farms; especially from the wind-blown garbage that gets caught in haying equipment and from the gulls, starlings and other nuisance birds that contaminate some fruit crops with their droppings.”

Riverbend Landfill in Yamhill County is hard to miss. Approximately 1.9 miles from McMinnville, the 13+ million ton, 140 foot high landfill rest on the banks of South Yamhill River is a seismic hazard zone. Expansion of the landfill would make it within yards of Highway 18, the main route from the Portland Metro area to the coast.

Because of its location, the landfill and its expansion has been protested since at least 2009, when a nonprofit group, Waste Not of Yamhill County, was formed to stop expansion. Waste Not is the official funding arm of the Stop the Dump Coalition that brought the case forward. The coalition included farmers, neighbors, and local businesses.

” The justices agreed that Riverbend Landfill creates significant impacts to surrounding farms, impacts that Waste Management, Inc. cannot buy their way out of,” Stop the Dump Coalition posted on their Facebook page on Thursday. “The way forward for Texas-based Waste Management Inc. is now significantly more complicated than it has been in the past. If there is no land use approval, then DEQ cannot permit further dump expansion.”

” This case represents a great win for Oregon farmers and upholds Tom McCall’s vision for Oregon’s land use planning system and farmland protection,” said Meriel Darzen, staff attorney for 1000 Friends of Oregon, which filed an amicus brief in the case.

She continued, “The Court looked deeply at the legislative history of the “farm impacts” test (ORS 215.296) and found that it focuses on protecting individual farmers from having to change their farm operations when a new operation moves in next door. This decision will protect Oregon’s farmers across the state.”

Also participating in this case were the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Oregon Farm Bureau.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content