A recent land-use decision in Yamhill County, Oregon, specified a list of allowed cookies that can be baked by a wheat farmer hoping to add an artisan bakery to sell bread to the many wine tourists in the area. Chocolate chip cookies are not on the list.
The county decision also imposed a questionable prior restraint on the business by prohibiting future requests to expand the bakery with an additional oven not contemplated in the start-up business plan. Message to businesses – welcome to Yamhill County, Oregon.
The Yamhill County case, land-use Docket No. C-22-19/SDR-35-19, has already had a crooked path. The original administrative approval was appealed by a local special interest advocacy group, the so-called Friends of Yamhill County that has a long history of opposing increased economic activity on farmland. Yamhill County is perhaps the Oregon epicenter of the evolution away from lower-value commodity agriculture to a more value-added, direct to the consumer business model. It is no coincidence that Yamhill County is famous for starting Oregon’s journey into international stardom in the wine industry. Agri-tourism is the leading industry in Yamhill County – the industry that pulls in the most related and unrelated new economic activity, not necessarily the biggest revenue generator itself.
After the appeal, the parties reached a settlement, which among other terms set the list of allowed cookies. If you wonder where the elected officials are on this case, they can avoid going on the record unless someone appeals the new decision. They should put themselves on the record regarding their leading industry.
So if you want a spelt/hazelnut cookie, or a Sable Breton, you are good to go. But if you want next year’s most famous cookie craze, you, and the baker, are out of luck.
While local government has a legitimate role via its jurisdiction over issues regarding building and land development, when it starts to set the cookie menu, something has gone awry.
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