Land board sides with Yamhill farmers, grants stay against bridge


The county hopes to one day use the bridge as part of a multi-use trail through Yamhill County

One section of land in Carlton where Yamhill County wants to build a multi-use trail (Wayne Wiebke)

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — The Land Use Board of Appeals sided with a group of Yamhill County farmers, granting a stay in their appeal against the construction of a bridge that could one day be used as part of a multi-use trail through wine country.

The county wants to build a recreational path that would start south of Carlton and extend to Gaston, possibly farther if additional lands were acquired. It would be located on former railroad property, which the county purchased in 2017.

No trail construction has taken place yet, with the exception of a bridge crossing Stag Hollow Creek, just east of Yamhill. County commissioners approved a more than $560,000 contract to build the bridge using money from an Oregon Department of Transportation grant in January, but opponents claim they didn’t find out about it until months later. The contract states the bridge is to be completed by May 1.

Ben VanDyke farms a couple thousand acres near Yamhill, including land next to where bridge construction started earlier this year. VanDyke, his family, and other “concerned” citizens have been fighting the trail for years, saying it would hinder their ability to farm.

Construction of a bridge over Stag Hollow Creek temporarily halted in April (Yamhill County)

When they learned bridge construction was underway, the farmers’ attorney filed a motion requesting LUBA stop the county from proceeding. On April 10, the state agency issued an interim stay, citing two legal precedents where the board stopped the demolition of historic buildings.

Friday afternoon, LUBA released its decision granting the stay. The board ruled VanDyke and the other petitioners “established a colorable claim of error and that at least one petitioner will suffer irreparable injury if a stay is not granted.”

Oral arguments are scheduled for May 27, by “telephonic conference.” The board is expected to issue its final opinion after that.

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