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Urban policy -- Oregon, Utopias -- Oregon, Rajneeshpuram (Or.) -- History, Religion and state -- Oregon -- Rajneeshpuram -- History


The Muddy River Ranch, composed of 65,000 acres near Antelope, Oregon, was purchased in 1980 by the Rajneesh Foundation International. The current controversy began in July, 1981 when the Rajneeshees sought building permits for farm worker residences although the ranch had been classified for exclusive farm use. On November 4, 1981, Wasco County approved the residents’ request to incorporate approximately 2000 acres of the ranch, which represented the first time a new city in Oregon had been established away from an existing urban growth boundary.

Adjacent Wasco County landowners, fearing more extensive development, combined forces with 1000 Friends of Oregon to challenge the incorporation of Rajneeshpuram. Initial litigation before the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), and the courts dealt with whether incorporation was a land use decision, and whether Oregon land use laws applied. In March, 1983, the Oregon Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that incorporation was subject to land use laws but in June, 1983, the Oregon Supreme Court declined to review that decision. In September, 1983, the case returned to LCDC-LUBA for interpretation of Oregon's land use laws regarding incorporation. At issue were the questions of whether incorporation automatically allows urban development and whether incorporation requires Rajneesh followers to follow the exceptions process.

Published in City Club of Portland Bulletin Vol. 64, No. 53

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