Western Exposure

Oregon city wants to open farmland for high-tech

By August 20, 2009March 19th, 2015No Comments

In yet another quarrel between the state’s urban and rural boundaries, the rapidly expanding Oregon town of Hillsboro has placed their sights on farmland to the north of the city for continued development, specifically as a high-tech core. But local farmers aren’t having it, reports Elizabeth Suh of the Oregonian.

Hillsboro planners say the acreage has “high-tech” potential as one of the only patches of land that future high-tech campuses and solar companies will consider in the area. They believe designating the land as an urban reserve, rather than a rural reserve, will provide economic opportunities for neighboring cities as well, with some cities touting it as crucial to their survival.

The county’s farm bureau won’t budge, and many residents have banned together to protect the farms to the north, forming Save Helvetia. The area is home to a Roosevelt elk travel corridor, and volunteers have counted as many as 4,000 historic Oregon White Oaks.

Farm types are diverse, and the agricultural conditions are irreplaceable, said Jim Johnson of Oregon’s Department of Agriculture:

“They’re just not making any more land… We’re talking great agricultural soils, great climate, great infrastructure in place — there’s just no place else to go.”

Perhaps Hillsboro should take notes from the tiny Oregon city of Damascus, whose idea to blend urban and rural into one zone received attention from InvestigateWest earlier this month.

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