The Wallowa County Planning Commission is following Oregon land use laws for private landowners in an urban growth boundary and not the expressed sentiments of the majority. On Aug. 31 the commission authorized the county planning department to draft findings in support of an application to build a home on the Marr Property between Joseph and Wallowa Lake. If approved at the Sept. 28 planning commission meeting, the findings would allow K & B Limited Family Partnership to build on the 60 acres of property if certain conditions are met.

The single family dwelling application was submitted after an 11-parcel preliminary plat subdivision application for the site was conditionally approved by both the planning commission and the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners, the latter decision now being under appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. A decision on that appeal was expected Tuesday and could impact how the planning commission handles the findings at the Sept. 28 meeting.

Unless the applicant agrees to an extension, the planning commission has 120 days from the time the single family dwelling application was deemed by the planning department to be officially completed, or until Oct. 2, to rule on the matter.

A planning commission decision is not final until findings are adopted.

Although some findings can be compiled in advance, additional written testimony will be received until Sept. 14. Wallowa County Planning Director Bill Oliver suggested the possibility that the applicant and opponents might submit additional testimony based from the Sept. 7 LUBA decision.

Conditions that K & B Limited Family Partnership will have to comply with are those in the applicable design review standards, including underground utilities, that outdoor lighting must be directed downward and a 25 foot high maximum roof line. Other potential conditions, Oliver said, include the possible monitoring of excavation for qualified archeological sites and conditions regarding the endangered species act threatened Spalding's catchfly plant.

When the single family dwelling application was first presented publicly at the June 29 planning commission meeting 10 persons spoke in opposition to the dwelling and 30 persons submitted opposition in writing. Much of that testimony came in at the last minute, so the commission, which did not meet in July, agreed to allow K & B attorney Rahn Hostetter and property owner Steve Krieger to offer rebuttal Aug. 31. Opponents were then afforded the opportunity of present sur rebuttal.

Using photographs to substantiate his claim, Krieger argued that his proposed dwelling would sit at a distance of 775 feet from the Old Chief Joseph burial site and that there are currently seven dwellings closer to the Nez Perce site. He showed pictures of two hills that would visually block all but the very top of his roofline from the burial grounds.

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