By editorial board • 

Gray showed conservation, development are compatible

Oregon has lost highly respected businessman and philanthropist John Gray

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How ironic. 1000 Friends and Friends of Yamhill County bend over backwards to work out a compromise solution for Newberg’s bloated urban expansion plans. Newberg refuses to give an inch, even though they’ve been rebuffed three times already by state agencies. So what does the News-Register do? They label 1000 Friends and FYC “litigation machines.” Yes, that’s ironic, but what is truly reprehensible is that the editors unleashed their invective under the guide of eulogizing a dead man. Yellow journalism is at its worst.

Ramsey McPhillips

My family grew up with the Gray Family and his architectural resort designer, John Storrs. We were all really close. This editorial makes me realize this paper will stop at nothing to further its obsessive pathological hatred of Oregon’s planning laws. It is you who inflames the community by attacking a large sector of the county who believe in Oregon’s land use laws, as did Mr. Gray. What’s worse, you are using the press to bastardize a good man’s legacy. This editorial will see the desks of every person who revered Mr. Gray and will make the NR look like a fool. I am embarrassed for you because so many people associate Yamhill County thru its land-use conflicts… something this paper has actively exploited in its attempt to dismantle Oregon’s 50-year working land-use model. It is okay to be against something. It is not okay to warp a dead man’s legacy into an opinion piece to advocate against something that he was for. It is twisted, thoughtless logic.

John Gray was one of the most important civic and business figures of Oregon's last century. You could have written pages on his legacy. No single person in our lifetime has had more positive impact on this State than John Gray. For the paper to choose to use his name, but a few days after his death, to attack the very local land use stewards he fathered are pitiful. This Editorial Board suggests that John Gray would be disappointed at the organization he founded because it is dutifully protecting the ag, forest and resources of this county from needlessly being developed. What source do you bring this theory to print. Did you contact his family? Did Mr. Gray ever disown 1000 Friends Of Oregon?

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Ramsey McPhillips

Really, what do you think Mr. Gray would think of you lambasting his life’s work in his eulogy – if that is even what you call this editorial? Do you even know the first thing about his efforts to protect the very land use laws you claim to be so troublesome in this editorial? Oh, now I get why you are defending a Leslie Lewis who secretly tape recorded her fellow Commissioner and then edited the recording – you are both into distortion.

As for Newberg, here’s a land-use primer.

1. Every county has a Comprehensive Plan (a brilliant legal device invented and defended often by John – he spent millions to do so) by which we define our individual land use needs.
2. Each city has an Urban Growth Boundary.
3. When there is a need to increase the Urban Growth Boundary, the Planning Boards analyses the request to expand based on population, housing and business needs and then changes the Comprehensive Plan to accommodate 20 years in advance of the projected need.
4. The laws are such that the lands made available to develop are those least likely to produce food or timber or natural resources. They are best expanded near existing utilities, near transportation. The boundary’s are “EXPANDED” not plotted here and there as isolated islands at the whim of friends of the Planning Department. They are not expanded by the needs of “Property Rights” advocates who feel the have a right to do as they may… regardless of sound community planning.
5. The expansions are based on factual evidence of projected population studies, as well as housing and commercial real estate needs projected 20 years out.

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Ramsey McPhillips

6. Those who are left out of the Urban Growth Boundary are compensated for the loss of value by a very large tax deferral – this prevents urban sprawl and inefficient use of utilities. My 500 acre farm is taxed $3,700/yr because I cannot turn it into a Costco. Just as important, this really smart and prudent land-use planning prevents the boom and bust real estate fluctuations that have tanked many adjoining states that over developed because… they could (google San Bernardino County/foreclosure, Cali, for instance.) By and large, Ag and forest lands in Oregon, which make up the majority of the land mass, do not fluctuate because our land use laws have had a stabilizing affect on land value.

All Newberg needs to do, all McMinnville needs to do, all they needed to do years ago was have a third party technical study done to demonstrate an actual need to expand their Urban Growth Boundary. At present, there is not the demonstrated need that Newberg pulled out of its hat. The study shows this. If and when a study show a need I am sure Mr. Gray’s ghost and the organization he founded will gladly join in changing the Comprehensive Plan to expand the boundary for “reasonable development.” If towns or the County continue to try and expand outside of the stated prudent laws that have protected this great State from urban sprawl and the destruction of our natural resources then you can expect a “litigation Machine” from 1000 Friends at the courts fighting them to the death.

This is the 50th birthday of Senate Bill 100, the landmark legislation enacted by moderate Republicans like John Gray to protect what we have here in Oregon. I hope it will stay law for a lot longer. I knew john. He would like that.

Jeb Bladine

We might quote something we wrote:
"We agree with the broad missions of conservation groups, including 1000 Friends. Oregon land use laws enacted in the ’70s slowed urban and suburban sprawl and provided important protections to our agriculture industries. 1000 Friends can take pride in its role of conserving farms and landscapes, and helping to instill that outlook in the minds of Oregonians."
And where was that written? In this very article.
We have the greatest respect for John Gray and what he did for the people and state of Oregon.
Jeb Bladine


If the Register's only defense is in quoting its own editorial, fairness would suggest they include the line "...(1000 Friends) ties up progress with years and years of litigation" from the same paragraph.
The 1000 Friends organization is doing nothing more than reminding our elected officials of their duty to enforce land-use laws that have served our state admirably for the past 50 years. Newberg's past and present actions have consistently demonstrated only contempt for Oregon's land use process. If the 1000 Friends organization is truly as all-powerful as Ms. Lewis is claiming, why does the county continue to pile garbage on some of the best farmland in the valley? Is this an example of the Register's idea of "progress"? If you must quote, try including Steinbeck's: "I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction."

Don Dix

Quote -- If the Register's only defense is in quoting its own editorial, fairness would suggest they include the line "...(1000 Friends) ties up progress with years and years of litigation" from the same paragraph.

From the article (the entire statement) -- "But the group risks turning Oregonians away from that mentality when it ties up progress with years and years of litigation."

--- reading the entire sentence, it seems like friendly advice, maybe a heads up. But in the no-growth world, it's a signal to ignore the actual meaning to argue a point? Interesting!

---- and it must be questioned, if the friends are truly doing nothing more than 'reminding', why all the lawyers, either on staff or retainer?

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