A broad-based organization called the South Wallowa Lake Citizens Committee has plans to greatly increase commercial recreation (CR2) land at the head of Wallowa Lake at the expense of residential recreation (R2) land. At the same time the group is recommending to the Wallowa County Planning Commission and the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners that South Wallowa Lake be designated as a resort community and not an incorporated city.
Letters will be mailed out within the next two weeks asking a number of R2 landowners if they are interested in making the change. There would be no tax consequences, but the change would give landowners more options of what they could do commercially with their land.
The South Wallowa Lake Citizens Committee is comprised of representatives from the Wallowa Lake Homeowners Association, Wallowa Lake Tourism Committee, Oregon State Parks, Wallowa Lake Tramway, Boy Scouts of America, Pacific Power, Wallowa Lake Fire Protection District, Forest Service, Wallowa Lake County Service District and unaffiliated private landowners.
At present there are 396 acres of land zoned either R2 or CR2 at the south end of Wallowa Lake with the largest individual parcel, now zoned R2, belonging to the Wallowa Lake State Park. Much of the 56 acres zoned CR2 is located along Hwy. 351 which extends to the southern end of what is often called Power House Road.
The citizens group's proposal would be to add as CR2 land an additional 150 acres of resource land at the southern end of the 396 acres, land now owned by Pacific Power and the Boy Scouts of America. By adding that property, changing the state park into CR2 land and possibly including some smaller properties along Hwy. 351, a balance could be created at the south end of Wallowa Lake between commercial recreation property and residential recreation property.
Through an unusual set of circumstances the committee's proposal will be first heard before the board of commissioners at an informational public hearing Monday, April 21. It will then be heard before the planning commission April 29.
The impetus for the change comes from the state of Oregon which is mandating that communities such as South Wallowa Lake determine their futures. Initial meetings were held in 1999, but delayed while the planning department developed plans for other smaller communities such as Troy, Minam, Flora and Imnaha.
The map the citizens group is now working with is a product of new technology available to the county known as GIS mapping. When the project was begun in 1999 the information was only available on 11 different assessor tax lot maps.