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Potential Land Use Restriction of Irrigation Reservoirs

March 17, 2011

The Oregon Land Conservation & Development Commission (LCDC) is considering new rules to restrict operation of irrigation reservoirs on farm land out of apparent concern that recreational use of some existing reservoirs (viz., for water sports) is affecting nearby farm uses.  LCDC empanelled a committee of stakeholders to consider new regulations.  The committee has met three times over the past few months.

The committee is considering classifying such reservoirs as “utility facilities necessary for public service.”  Within the rubric of Exclusive Farm Use zoning, that term of art includes everything from municipal water mains to cell towers.  Because they do not directly support agriculture, such uses are subject to a rigorous permit process.

At least one agency planner is questioning the need for this new regime.  Tamra Mabbott, longtime planning director in Umatilla County, commented that the proposal “seems like overkill.”  Ms. Mabbott went on to comment that the State’s concern could probably be addressed through each county’s existing permit system.

The committee is charged to propose a final rule for LCDC to consider at its April, 2011 meeting.

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