“Staff finds that the bike races are inconsistent with the code criteria and are not an activity that promotes the sale of farm crops.”
— Multnomah County
Multnomah County’s land use planning department has reached a decision in the permit application for Kruger’s Farm. As we reported back in June, the farm stand has hosted numerous popular bike races in the past but those events were in jeopardy after the County received a complaint that triggered an update to Kruger’s land use permit.
A decision made public today by Multnomah County Planning Director Karen Schilling, states that, “Weddings, bike races, birthday parties, corporate picnics, and group gatherings are not allowed as part of this decision.”
Kruger’s Farm Market sits on an Exclusive Farm Use zone and farm owner Don Kruger has added many activities to the land that are not agricultural in nature. One of those uses that came under scrutiny by the county were bike races.
Local race promoter Kris Schamp of Portland Racing held his first “Kruger’s Crossing” cyclocross race on the property back in November of 2006. Schamp has held the race each year since then and has also added the “Kruger’s Kermesse” criterium series.
Schamp sent a letter to the County in support of Kruger’s application for expanded uses of the property. “I told them it wasn’t just about racing, but about all the things Don is doing to build community,” Schamp said today after hearing about the decision.
Schamp is “very disappointed” in the ruling. “The bike races have been extremely low impact and have proven to be a huge booster for the farm store,” said Schamp, “I don’t understand why the county is not willing to view it as another acceptable promotional activity for Don’s business.”
Schamp is also worried that this ruling, if it goes unchallenged, could set a precedent for other bike races held on private farms; “So maybe it’s a concern that the bike race community needs to elevate.”
“The bike races have been extremely low impact and have proven to be a huge booster for the farm store… I don’t understand why the county is not willing to view it as another acceptable promotional activity for Don’s business.”
— Kris Schamp, bike race promoter
In their decision statement, the County addresses issues 21 “Conditions of Approval” ranging from parking to traffic management to what types of foods can be sold in the market. The bike races are among these conditions.
The County has decided that no fee-based activities will be allowed — except for weekly harvest festivals and the corn maze (not sure why the exception is made for a corn maze, the planner who signed the decision is out of the office until next week).
In his application with the County, Don Kruger said that on the days when a bike race had been held, his business at the farm store increases five-fold (from a typical $800 in sales to $4,000). In the decision, the County says they recognize the increased revenue during bike races, but that:
“Staff finds that the bike races are inconsistent with the code criteria and are not an activity that promotes the sale of farm crops. The farm serves as providing a venue for a bike race event. The primary focus of the event is to host a bike race, and not to promote the farm.”
According to a story in The Oregonian back in June, they County heard overwhelming community support for Kruger’s Farm’s permit application — receiving more than 150 e-mails and letters in support and just two in opposition.
While this decision is a blow to Kruger and to promoter Kris Schamp, it seems like with some tweaks, a bike race could still be amenable with the code. One reader who notified me about the decision, wondered if bike races could still happen if they were not “fee-based”. Another condition listed in the decision states that, “The purpose of special events shall be to promote the sale of farm crops or livestock grown on the farm…”
Can bike races be tweaked to directly promote the farm and can promoters get around the “fee-based” designation? No word yet whether or not Kruger plans to appeal. If he does, he’ll have to pay $250 and will have to decide in the next 14 days. Barring an appeal, the decision is final on July 22, 2009.
— Download the County’s decision here (PDF, 2.4mb)