(Couldn't think of an original blog post title. Brain fried from writing brilliant land use appeal document today. Plagiarism credit goes to Dave Eggers.)
If you ever wanted to know why a Measure 37 subdivision on groundwater limited farmland shouldn't be approved — and I know there are a few land use nerds out there in the blogosphere who eat this stuff up — today I wrote five pages that would even convince Dave Hunnicutt, President of Oregonians in Action.
That's how good my reconsideration request to the Marion County Board of Commissioners is. If you don't believe me, read it and be convinced that the commissioner's 2-1 decision to approve a 42 lot development in the south Salem hills was deeply flawed. Download reconsideration_request3.doc
It took me a couple of hours to write this afternoon. Laurel and I have been going back and forth on a reconsideration request. We tried to ask for a reconsideration at the Board of Commissioners June 20 meeting during the public comment period, but were rebuffed.
I'd written up six minutes of beautiful convincing arguments (you get three minutes to make a public comment). But I'd only gotten about six seconds into my talk before the chair and county attorney shut me down. How were we supposed to know a reconsideration request had to be in writing?
We're just land use activists trying to keep our neighborhood's wells from going dry. We're part of what the Bus Project's Jefferson Smith calls "the coalition of the benevolently irrational."
Meaning, we spend many hours and many dollars fighting to stop a Measure 37 subdivision for no reason other than it's the right thing to do. True, the creek that could go dry if the subdivision sucks up water that supplies Spring Creek flows through our property.
But the benefit we'd get from protecting the groundwater is far, far less (monetarily, at least) than the millions Leroy Laack and his partners hope to gain from selling 42 lots.
That's why we're "benevolently irrational." I spent the bulk of a sunny summer afternoon glued to my word processor when I could have been doing something a lot more pleasant.
So the next time someone leaves a comment on one of my Measure 37-related posts along the lines of, "You're a selfish Prius-driving, property rights-hating, I've got mine-ing jerk who doesn't want anyone else to enjoy a rural lifestyle like you do," (I get comments like that frequently) I'm going to point them to this post.
Yeah, I sure am selfish. I spend tons of time trying to fight this threat to our neighborhood's groundwater even though winning this battle will benefit my wife and me minimally. We don't live right next door to the proposed subdivision, though some of our friends do.
If their wells go dry, we'd be seriously bothered. So that's a big part of our "selfish" motivation—helping others.
And as for that enjoyable rural lifestyle, the past few months a big part of it has involved sitting in Marion County hearings, researching well problems in our area, organizing neighbors, fundraising for a Keep Our Water Safe committee, and writing up reasons why the subdivision shouldn't be approved.
Most recently, brilliant reasons. I should have the first year of law school waived for today's reconsideration appeal beauty. Here's hoping that the Marion County Board of Commissioners will recognize a staggering work of land use appeal genius when they see it.
Seriously now (as if I wasn't before), we've got the law, facts, and common sense on our side. Like I say at the end of my five pages:
Please reconsider your decision. We and over a hundred neighbors want to have our water protected. We're not against development. But we're definitely against excessive development that dries up our wells and lake.