KFalls Essentials Lavender Farm won’t be blooming for the public this summer after owners Cliff and Diana Warrick experienced an onslaught of public comments protesting their application for a new zoning permit with Klamath County.
Six households on Sunset Beach Road, the subdivision the Warricks’ property belonged to, submitted letters urging the Klamath County Planning Commission to deny the proposed permit, mainly citing concerns that the farm would bring too many visitors to the private residential neighborhood.
Diana Warrick said the environment with her neighbors got so nasty that she and her husband sold their property and are moving to Arkansas to be with family.
“We decided not to participate in the drama any further,” she said.
The lavender farm, from which the couple produces lavender products sold at various local businesses, was seeking a home occupation permit to be able to open to a small number of visitors for 12 days each summer when the plants are in bloom. They had received an economic development grant from the county to expand parking and set up a small shed to serve as a shop for their products and house small lavender product-making classes.
“It would’ve been really cool for the community, but it just got to be a really nasty situation,” Warrick said.
Warrick said her immediate neighbors were supportive of the farm, but that those in the neighborhood who would have been less affected by the operation bought into “misinformation” about it, including that there would be large touring groups, weddings and festivals held there if the permit were granted.
KFalls Essentials’ grant and permit applications did mention a few of those things, but Warrick said they were visions that would take several years yo come to fruition, if they got to that point.
Warrick said it appeared that neighbor Edward VanTassel organized a group of other Sunset Beach residents in a coordinated effort to protest the farm. His letter opposing the permit application was co-signed by 10 other Sunset Beach households, three residents from elsewhere in Klamath Falls and one resident from Colorado.
“This is an intimate quiet residential community and it is not desired to alter our environment by installing a commercial enterprise,” VanTassel’s letter read.
Warrick said she ultimately believes the Planning Commission still would have granted the permit, given Klamath County’s support for small businesses and agritourism, but the treatment from her neighbors left a sour taste in her mouth.
“It’s been an education in how quick people can turn on you,” Warrick said. “It just takes one person to rile up a crowd.”
The Warricks’ house sold within hours of them putting it on the market, and the young couple moving in isn’t planning on pursuing a business with more than the 500 lavender plants currently on the property.
Warrick said she made sure their new home in Arkansas isn’t sharing a driveway with anyone. The experience has given her husband an excuse to retire, and the two hope to do some traveling with their free time. She said she unfortunately won’t be able to grow lavender in the deep South.
“Arkansas is way too wet,” she said.