UGB: What do the farmers say?

The desire to expand Keizer’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) has captured the imagination of civic leaders and developers alike. Setting aside questions of the cost of infrastructure needed to turn land north of Keizer into residential neighborhoods or industrial/office parks, who is speaking for Marion County’s rich agricultural land?

 Some of the richest land is on the north border of Keizer and includes most of the land that would be considered for future development.

A major reason for Oregon’s precedent-setting land use law was to protect farmlands from urban sprawl, it birthed the Urban Growth Boundaries in the state. Will land owners fight to keep their agricultural lands out of the hands of development and citification?

The old saying, ‘buy land, they’re not making any more of it,’ is never more true than when talking about farmland. Some say Marion County agricultural land is the most productive of any in the world. Though most of us here in Keizer are not farmers we benefit from our local farmland. Those acres are a buffer from encroachng urban sprawl from the Portland metropolitan area. Those acres provide jobs and the farms are generous in donating needed food for our food banks. Farms carry on the tradition and heritage that dates to the first settlers in this area back in the 1850s.

A drive north and west of our area allows a motorist to pass thousands of acres of productive land here in Marion County as well as the counties Clackamas, Polk and Yamhill. It is a shame to think that our insatiable appetite for developable land might one day turn much of that land into city.

That is why it is important for those on various task forces and committees considering the future growth of Keizer. To accomodate expected population growth the first option to consider is to build up rather than out.

The way people live now will match mixed used developments that take up small footprints but reach for the sky, up to five floors.

That will protect vital farmland, if the current owners want to protect it. We think it is important to hear from those whose livelihoods could be challenged by a UGB expansion.

Though the lure of big payouts by developers is enticing, we hope that the tradition of farming wins out over money. They are not making any more land. Let’s be sure we are using ours wisely.