- Troy Foster
- Madras Pioneer - News
April 9, 2003 — Kate Kimball, the Central Oregon Advocate for 1,000 Friends of Oregon, lives on a 20-acre parcel in Deschutes County that’s zoned for Exclusive Farm Use.
As a paid staff member of the nonprofit farmland preservation group, Kimball is one of the leading advocates of maintaining Jefferson County’s land-use policy.
Her group has extended its legal support to the Jefferson County Farm Bureau as it’s fought through two appeals the prior county commission’s attempt to ease restrictions and permit so-called “Lot of Record” dwellings.
Kimball also has appeared in person to testify against several individual home applications, including two Lot of Record dwellings submitted before the zoning ordinances were remanded: a 65-acre parcel owned by Thayne and Kaye Corwin and 50-acre parcel owned by Dorothy Gard-James.
Critics of 1,000 Friends involvement know this, and point to it as a simple case of Kimball not practicing what she preaches. But Kimball doesn’t see it that way.
“What my job is, is to monitor and do what I can to see that land-use transactions follow the law,” said Kimball, who is a lawyer.
Further, she said, her dwelling was a pre-existing home on a pre-existing parcel when she bought it. “We live in a lawful lot in Deschutes County,” Kimball said.
Kimball bought her home on Sturgeon Road in 1999.
Her 20-acre hobby farm includes a home that was constructed in 1953. Kimball said she grows hay while raising sheep and cows.
A land owner cannot get a permit today for a 20-acre hobby farm in Jefferson County, which has consistently held off pressure to parcelize some of its farmland under state statutes that allowed Deschutes County to do the same thing.
Last week, Kimball indicated 1,000 Friends of Oregon would likely appeal the Corwins’ application for a home on their 65-acre parcel off Highland Lane should the Jefferson County Commission approve it.
The Corwins turned in their application for a Lot of Record dwelling on June 6 of last year, before the prior commission’s zoning ordinance was remanded. The state’s Lot of Record provision allows property owners who meet certain criteria to build a single-family home on land they’ve owned prior to 1985.
The Corwins have owned their property for more than 40 years, Kaye Corwin said. “I think we ought to have more privileges on how to live in Jefferson County,” Kaye Corwin said.
“All of them have got what they wanted, so now they don’t want to let anyone else. “It makes you feel bitter.”
When asked, Kimball stopped short of saying whether 1,000 Friends is opposed to Lot of Record dwellings, maintaining that its duty is to defend the laws that are in place.
“I’m a lawyer and the Corwins do not comply under the law,” Kimball said. “If they can produce enough income, I’m fine with that.
“If we had the land the Corwins had, and you multiply that out, we could make the test,” Kimball continued, adding that her home qualifies as a farm dwelling, albeit under different laws.
Kimball said Deschutes and Jefferson counties are difficult to compare, with Deschutes’ agricultural lands focused on hobby farms while Jefferson County has chosen a path of preserving its commercial farming identity.
Since 1,000 Friends of Oregon was founded in 1975, it has advocated for compact, livable cities to preserve resource lands. Its advocates defend land-use laws before local governments around the state and use litigation as a tool to enforce existing laws and establish legal precedents.
“One-Thousand Friends opposes nonfarm activities in farming areas because it interferes with agriculture,” Kimball said. “What we’re for is farm activity in farm zones and forest activity in forest zones in order to protect their economic viability.”
Kimball monitors land-use activities in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties. She was hired in January of last year.
“Is the concern really where I live?” Kimball asked. “Or what I say?”