Commissioners approve Westsider Trail after remand from state

Kulla says it’s good for the county and farmers can accommodate trail in their farming practices.

The Westsider Trail in Yamhill County has new life breathed back into it. On a two to one vote, in a room filled with opponents, Yamhill County Commissioners voted in favor of the trail. The Oregon Land Use Board of appeals had kicked the trail back to the county wanting a hearing on the question of farm impacts.

According to Oregon Law, the trail can not have a significant impact on farming practices or the cost of those farming practices.

Ken Friday of the Yamhill County Planning Department says Staff’s contention is the concerns about farmers can be addressed. Commissioner Casey Kulla, himself a farmer, addressed the crown saying the trail will be good overall for the county, that farmers should think out of the box, and they can find a way to operate with the trail next to their fields.

When ever this issues comes up, the room is packed with farmers opposing the trail. Today was no exception. No additional testimony was taken today, the staff report was given and commissioners told their position on the trail.

Commissioner Mary Starrett has long opposed the trail saying it’s inappropriate to have a large number of tourists walking through prime farm land. She and farmers are concerned about thefts, trespassing, homeless campers, and the difficulty of moving farm machinery across the trail’s path…..and of having to stop spraying or not spray farm land near the trail because of the concern of over spray.

Some farmers say they are concerned about tourist smelling pesticides and they they have to go through an extended investigation to prove pesticide application is legal.

Some farmers telling KLYC News before today’s meeting they don’t have a problem with the trail, they just don’t want it going through their farm land.

Commissioner Olson says there will be legal challenges, such as there were with the bypass, and the courts will have to make that determination.

County Attorney Todd Sadlo tells KLYC News the printed record of testimony in this case has tripled in size since the last remand. Sadlo says a great benefit is the testimony can be used to determine how to help write the Trail Master Plan so agriculture and the trail can co-exist as amicably as possible. It gives planners more specifics on farm practices so they can look at trail design and operation for minimum impact.

Opponents have 21 days to file an appeal with the Land Use Board of Appeals.

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