In my service to the Umatilla Basin Watershed Council and Umatilla County Planning Commission, I have listened carefully to many citizens who are concerned Measure 37 was not intended to provide for the sort of large developments that stand to proliferate under this poorly written law.
I believe the true intention people had when they supported Measure 37 in 2004 was to permit longtime landowners to construct a home or two on their property. And I am deeply concerned by the inappropriate and unplanned development that already is under way because of Measure 37.
That is why I strongly support Measure 49 and am urging others to pick up their ballots right now and vote yes on 49.
Measure 49 helps people looking to develop just a few home sites by providing a "fast track" for land owners with valid Measure 37 claims who want to develop up to three home sites. It allows landowners not on high-value farmland or forests to develop up to 10 home sites if they can prove regulations have caused a decline in property value and if the law allowed such development when they acquired the property.
Measure 49 also restores fairness in Oregon because it limits the large development that Measure 37 has invited.
Without protections from Measure 49, Oregon's agriculture-based communities will be undermined.
All told, more than 7,500 Measure 37 claims have been filed for upwards of 750,000 acres of land throughout Oregon - land mostly zoned for farming and forestry.
I understand why many people believe they have a right to do as they wish with their own property, however property rights can't be treated as if each landowner exists within a bottle.
As a result, consequences of Measure 37 claims for development raise numerous concerns for the citizens of Oregon.
With multiple claims for residential subdivisions filed on exclusive farm use lands adjoining my farm, I am just one of thousands of farmers and ranchers all around the state who will be affected by random development unleashed by Measure 37.
Consider the impact these unforeseen developments pose to the rights of all property owners, not the least of which is their ability to maintain an existing way of life.
Like others who are neighbors to Measure 37 waivers, the ability to go on using land as we do today is compromised when a subdivision moves in next door. Subdivisions have been restricted from farmland and forests because they are incompatible with agricultural operations, which are noisy, dusty and require pesticides.
And the problems affect more than just immediate neighbors. Underdeveloped rural roads pose safety risks when they are burdened with a level of use heretofore unforeseen. Groundwater in many cases barely supports existing domestic and agricultural users. Additional users will overtax the system.
Thirty years ago, Oregon was a courageous leader when it protected precious natural resource lands for future generations.
It is our responsibility to ensure that the legacy continues.
Please vote "yes" on Measure 49 and restore balance and fairness.
Gary Rhinhart lives in Pendleton. He is a fourth-generation dry land wheat farmer.