Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, "Taking Liberties."
Ted Schroeder, a doctor, lives on 52 acres in the rural Grande Ronde Valley in northeast Oregon. He voted for Oregon’s Measure 37 and regrets it. A neighboring family, operating as Terra-Magic Inc., has filed a Measure 37 claim, seeking to brush aside agricultural zoning and subdivide 1,400 acres of prime farmland into 335 home sites. The valley is mostly farms, which grow mint, grass seed, potatoes, alfalfa and wheat. Many residents say that an influx of homes on small lots would change the valley’s character forever. Opponents also say it would cause conflicts with farm activities, including increased traffic, dogs harassing livestock, and intolerance toward field burning and pre-dawn harvesting. On June 7, the Union County Commissioners (all three Republicans) rejected the developer’s claim on a technicality, but the developer will likely appeal to circuit court. Schroeder is not optimistic the development can be stopped, and he feels deceived:
Ted Schroeder: "The way Measure 37 was presented to the public, prior to the election, they paraded the little old lady who had 20 acres in the ads, they had (her) saying, ‘Well, my retirement was going to (rely on the) 20 acres, and I was going to sell five acres, and the land-use laws won’t let me.’ … The other ad had to do with families who had farmed, say, a 300-acre parcel for a lot of years and (regulations prevented their children from putting) a house on five acres so they could stay on the farm. That was the appeal they made to the public. … There are people like me who aren’t sophisticated voters, who don’t read the fine print in the voter’s pamphlets. In my naiveté, I thought I was voting to help relieve those sorts of situations. … If you polled a lot of people who voted for Measure 37, none of them voted for these mega-projects that are going to create multimillionaires. … People got bamboozled, they got suckered in. … I kick myself for being so naive."