Decisions made two weeks ago by the state's Land Conservation Development Commission (LCDC) upheld years of work produced by the Wallowa County Planning Department and the Wallowa County Planning Commission. In two separate decisions the LCDC overruled appeals concerning the county's 2-year old protection policy for the Wallowa Lake moraines and the county's unincorporated community plan for south Wallowa Lake.
"Wallowa County is still out in front on land use planning," said county planning director Bill Oliver who testified at both hearings. "We were real thrilled. I think the appellants did a good job. We stood the test and are glad the decisions went the way they did."
Both works under appeal were undertaken as part of the state mandated periodic review process.
Wallowa County is one of only two Oregon counties that has completed the periodic review process twice. It was completed in the 1980s and, after eight years of work, was recently completed the second time.
One decision upheld Article 44 of the Wallowa County land use plan, the amending article drafted over a period of years by the Wallowa County planning commission to replace Article 28 as the county's law concerning the geologically significant lake moraines. The second decision upheld the county's work to define how to best develop non moraine property near the lake.
County commissioner Mike Hayward, Oliver and deputy planner Harold Black testified for about five minutes each before the seven-person LCDC board of which four of the seven gubernatorial appointees were attending their first meeting. Also testifying on the Article 44 issue were appellants Jean Pekarek, Liam O'Callahan and Mildred Fraser.
The appellant arguments focused on the opinion that Article 44 is less stringent on moraine development. Oliver defends Article 44, saying that some development can be approved on an area by area, case-by-case basis, but that in some areas the new legislation is even more restrictive than it was under Article 28.
Hayward and Oliver testified against the appeal on the south Wallowa Lake issue while appellants June Colony, Steve Larson and Fraser testified in favor of the appeal. Portions of their arguments were questions about citizen involvement in the process and whether proper steps had been taken in the changing of land use zones during a legislative process.
By officially designating south Wallowa Lake as an unincorporated community it legalizes development beyond the one house for two acres allowed in a rural development zone.
When the periodic review process was begun in the non moraine area the possible formation of a city was considered, as was the inclusion of residents on the west side of Wallowa Lake and the north end of the lake in the process. It became quickly evident that west and north end residents wanted nothing to do with the non-moraine periodic review task.