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Commentary was geared to paint group as 'extremist'

After some consideration, I would appreciate the Hillsboro Tribune making a “correction” for a factual error (“Who is against allowing farmers to host a wedding party?” Hillsboro Tribune, March 21 issue).

At no place in our paper do we recommend that: “… events not be held in the summer.” The writer of the commentary, Mr. Bob Horning, goes on to suggest that we recommend winter weddings. I would term this inaccurate hyperbole in an attempt to paint us as extremists against family farmers. This is ironic, in that in other media venues (Hillsboro Argus), Mr. Horning tries to paint Save Helvetia as extremists, defending farmland versus development.

n Mr. Horning’s media comments all appear to relate to the county commission races under way. I was reminded of the Hillsboro Tribune’s editorial of Feb. 7, in which the Hillsboro Tribune cautioned against making the commission races overly partisan. While Horning does not identify his “party,” he is a known supporter of Duyck’s candidacy, showing up on Duyck’s donor lists, and he is clearly busy trying to “expose” Duyck’s opponent. One of his recent contributions to the Hillsboro Argus had to be taken down due to its level of personal attack.

n Back to agri-tourism: We do express concern for saturation of events during the summer, given that we are “close in” to a 1.5 million population base.

n Mr. Horning says three-quarters of the Save Helvetians he names have only recently moved to the area. Those named have lived in the area 30 years, plus or minus. When you compare us to our multiple Century Farm families, yes, we are “newcomers.” When you compare us to the Twality Indians, yes, we are “newcomers.” Horning is suggesting we are simply not qualified to comment. Save Helvetia was actually invited to participate in the technical advisory group hosted by Washington County. As we participated, we studied the issues and made this contribution. We in Helvetia have had a history of over a decade of non-permitted events, during which Washington County has developed files of complaints and violations. Our qualifications to comment draw upon this history of experience, our interest in promoting good neighbor relations in the Helvetia community and our supporting of a balanced agri-tourism ordinance. We fully support citizen involvement in county planning, especially as it impacts land use planning and livability. This is a matter of state law via Tom McCall’s Senate Bill 100 of 1973 and its Goal One, which gives citizens standing to comment. Counties are required to facilitate this state law: Washington County has these principles enshrined in its Order and Resolution 86-58. Oregonians are fortunate to have citizen involvement support, which invites us all to be engaged in our communities. Are there qualifications to comment? Residency in Oregon.

n We encourage interested parties to read our agri-tourism document and also study the county report. Agri-tourism will become part of our future. How will it occur? How will it be balanced?

These are questions we have sought to contribute to. You can read the paper by going to the savehelvetia.org website, clicking on the “Making our Case” section, and then clicking on “Testimony,” and scrolling to “Agri-Tourism Position Paper.” We have always endeavored to be transparent with who we are, what we are advocating for, and basing our positions on accessible rationale.

Robert Bailey serves on the board of directors of Save Helvetia, a local advocacy organization working to protect Helvetia’s farms, forests and cultural heritage.



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